Regulate digital currencies to protect investors

The market capitalisation has reached $200 billion for the first time in history, up from $40 billion at the beginning of 2017

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Published: Tue 21 Nov 2017, 7:53 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Nov 2017, 9:53 PM

Seven years ago what seemed like just another digital currency project has taken the world by storm today. Bitcoin soared to a new record high on Monday, and has touched the $8,000 mark for the first time. The rise has been meteoric, to say the least, and forces us to question if this product would change the world of finance or it is just another asset bubble that would eventually pop. There is unexplained euphoria and excitement feeding into the skyrocketing valuation of the currency. Bitcoin lacks legitimacy of a fiat currency yet its valuations have jumped almost 50 per cent in just over a week, and 700 per cent this year. The ride hasn't been a smooth one though. Bitcoin is highly vulnerable to the evolving regulatory landscape and this year alone it has plummeted three times. Digital currencies, on the whole, are seeing a sudden rise. The market capitalisation has reached $200 billion for the first time in history, up from $40 billion at the beginning of 2017.

As investors lap up this high-risk asset, how much more time will governments need to frame regulations? Will digital currencies get integrated into the mainstream? It seems to be on the horizon. Japan has allowed people to pay for goods and services with Bitcoin. It is also giving cryptocurrency exchanges and remittance operators licence and subjecting them to annual audits. The Financial Services Agency of Japan has already issued operating licences to 11 bitcoin exchanges. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange is planning to launch Bitcoin futures with a centralised clearing mechanism. But in the midst of these developments, regulatory guidelines remain missing from the financial watchdogs of the world. The Securities and Exchange Commission or the Financial Conduct Authority, or for that matter the regulators in the UAE, have not been clear on how they wish to regulate digital currency to protect the interests of investors. More regulatory oversight is needed. We have been through the Dotcom boom and bust, and the subprime crisis. We might not want to repeat those mistakes.

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