An Update on Global Cryptocurrency Regulation

Anyone who even casually follows cryptocurrency knows that the landscape is ever-changing where regulation is concerned. In the last few years, mainstream perception of Bitcoin has changed and public interest has boomed. Now governments all around the world are trying to figure out how to get their cut and contend with the new digital frontier.

United States

Following a letter from Republican legislators to the IRS, more headway was made toward cryptocurrency regulation, as talks arranged by Rep. Warren Davidson took place in the nation’s capital. The roundtable brought together experts from the institutional sector, represented by such names as Fidelity, Nasdaq, et al., and leaders in the virtual currency space. Together, they urged US authorities to develop an extensive and robust regulatory framework for blockchain and crypto.

The IRS has been criticized for penalizing investors who have failed to report tax obligation on their digital currency, though the regulation is a grey area. David Forman, a chief legal officer at Fidelity Investments lamented, “If the rules are unclear, unwritten, or unknown it’s not appropriate to punish people for making the wrong guess.”

United Kingdom

Following the UK Parliament’s release of a report on cryptocurrencies, corporate law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain put out a press release speculating that a two-year timeframe for legislation to be passed on virtual currency is a “best-case scenario”. The Treasury committee has suggested that the “Wild West situation” of the industry can not continue and it has suggested that the Financial Conduct Authority be the regulating body. However, the use of blockchain technology is currently being explored by the government for the management of land registries in the country.

France

It looks like new ICO regulation is on the horizon for France, as the Assemblée Nationale initiated a debate about a legal project introduced last June by the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire. This inquiry contained some changes in the French regulatory framework in regards to cryptocurrency and ICOs–many aimed at encouraging growth and development in the space. This legislation could be the catalyst that brings France into the fold as one of the many European countries building out favorable environments for crypto and blockchain companies to thrive.

Japan

Moving over toward the east, it appears industry darling, Coinbase, has announced plans to expand into the land of the rising sun. For anyone unaware, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), Japan’s governing financial body, has been very heavy-handed when it comes to approving and regulating exchanges, even for well-established platforms. This approach has been widely attributed to the multitude of hacks that have occurred in the country’s exchanges over the last 10 years. Though the exchange made the announcement several months ago, Chief Policy Officer, Mike Lempres, has stated that the company has been making good progress when it comes to obtaining their FSA license and is “committed” to gaining regulatory approval by 2019.

Hong Kong

As a former British colony, Hong Kong has political and economic autonomy under the handover agreement between Beijing and London. Because it functions as its own special administrative region within China, many leaders in the cryptocurrency space have established their operations in the region. The most current news is that, unlike mainland China, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) says it has no plans to impose any bans on cryptocurrency, though is in favor of at least overseeing it in order to protect investors.