Belgian Regulator Adds New Crypto-Related Businesses to Its Blacklist

The FSMA made the update following a number of complaints from Belgium-based users who dealt with fraudulent offers of investment in digital currencies, according to a Feb. 21 announcement. After the latest revision, the FSMA’s list now includes a total of 141 websites offering cryptocurrency-related services.

Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has updated its blacklist of cryptocurrency-related websites associated with fraudulent activity.

Raising awareness of crypto-related risks

The FSMA further warned that the list is based on customer reports and the agency’s own findings, meaning that it does not include all the crypto-related businesses that might be illegally operating in Belgium.

Previously, the FSMA issued similar warnings to cryptocurrency investors, outlining that they should be wary of companies that claim to hold authorizations from supervisory authorities “This is a very frequently used technique. However, these are often cases of identity theft. Feel free to ask the FSMA to confirm the information you have received”, the agency said then.

In June of last year, Belgian FPS Economy rolled out a website to raise awareness of the risks associated with investments in crypto. At the time, Belgian investors had reported the loss of €2.2 million ($2.5 million) in crypto scams to the FPS in 2018.

The FPS said that this was “just the tip of the iceberg” as only 4% of crypto fraud cases had been reported. Per their estimations, investors in Belgium lose about €130 million ($152 million) to crypto scams each year.

Crypto investor support from authorities worldwide

Authorities of countries around the world provide informational support for cryptocurrency investors in a bid to insure them from potential losses. In January, the State Security Board in the American state of Texas included cryptocurrencies in their list of top threats to investors. A dedicated guide warned:

“Promoters’ claims of ‘secure’ cryptocurrency-related investments and ‘guaranteed’ profits should be approached with caution: Cryptocurrencies tend to be extremely volatile and investors may be unable to quickly liquidate products tied to them.”

Meanwhile, Financial Stability Board Chair Randal Quarles has voiced his concerns regarding how quickly digital currencies are affecting the global economy while regulatory action struggles to keep up.

Germany’s Second Largest Exchange Boerse Stuttgart Lists Short Bitcoin ETP

Investors looking to short Bitcoin have a new option in Germany. On Feb. 25, Boerse Stuttgart — the country’s second-largest stock exchange — announced the listing of an exchange-traded product (ETP) that is inversely correlated to the cryptocurrency’s price swings.

Hedging against all scenarios

The inverse ETP is issued by crypto fund manager 21Shares, formerly known as Amun. The product offers investors a positive return whenever Bitcoin’s price falls — minus a daily management fee.

Already listed on Switzerland’s principal stock exchange SIX Swiss Exchange, the 21Shares Short Bitcoin ETP (SBTC) will reach an even wider investor base via Boerse Stuttgart, which last year reported trading volumes of 68.5 billion euro.

Hany Rashwan, CEO of 21Shares, has claimed that “investors in Germany have demonstrated strong support for prior crypto offerings” and the firm is responding, though cautiously, to this strong demand.

SBTC, which trades in euro, is fully hedged 1:1 with the corresponding underlying asset and has been issued a WKN German securities identification code (WKN: A2781V).

21Shares has indeed rolled out a suite of derivatives tracking the value of Bitcoin, Ether (ETH), XRP, Binance Coin (BNB) and Tezos (XTZ), as well as a basket of currencies.

21Shares also confirmed today that its PD3 Prospectus Regulation for existing ETPs governed under Swiss law had been approved by the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority.

In a statement, 21Shares managing director said the approval represents a milestone for traditional investors and the crypto community, opening crypto-based ETP products to both retail and institutional clients in Germany and across Europe.

In a past interview with Cointelegraph, CEO Hany Rashwan had pointed to the “massive” demand for crypto derivatives, yet noted that many of the products that exist today remain in the form of options/futures and are “built mostly out of unregulated geographies.”

This situation, he argued, tends both to ward off institutional investors and to result in such complicated and management-intensive products that retail investors, too, are driven away.

Past offerings

Last year, 21Shares — then known as Amun — partnered with crypto asset manager Bitwise on another multi-crypto-based ETP, which tracks the performance of up to 10 cryptos, also for listing on SIX Swiss exchange.

Boerse Stuttgart has previously partnered with European digital publishing titan Axel Springer and Finanzen.net to jointly launch a blockchain-powered trading venue, having previously rolled out a zero-fee crypto trading app.

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