New research has found that, despite the popular idea that cryptocurrencies operate generally outside the reach of national regulators, regulatory actions still have a huge impact on crypto markets. The research is presented in a report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), an organisation owned by 60 of the world’s central banks from countries cumulatively making up 95 percent of global GDP.
In the report, the data presented shows that while markets do not generally respond to news about central banks creating their own digital currencies or issuing general non-specific warnings about cryptocurrencies, they show a significant response to regulatory announcements regarding the legal status of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offering (ICO) tokens, as well as possible expansion and enforcement of AML, KYC, and CFT regulations.
According to the report, four major findings were established about the response of crypto markets to regulatory actions and announcements.
First of all, crypto markets were found to respond most significantly to news reports and events concerning bans, restrictions, or legal battles on cryptocurrencies and ICOs. Where the news in question directly concerns regulatory decisions or actions regarding the legal status of crypto assets, markets respond very strongly.
This also includes issues surrounding securities regulation, such as the ongoing ambiguity regarding the United States SEC’s pending decision on whether to permit a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF). This does not only work negatively, as according to the report, markets also react positively to news about possible new legal frameworks designed to accommodate cryptocurrencies and ICOs.
Second, regulatory news about AML/CFT measures and restrictions on crypto’s ability to integrate with traditional financial systems due to regulatory action or non-action was also found to have a noticeable effect on crypto markets. For example, news that a crypto exchange is denied access to banking services within a regulated financial system has a noticeably negative effect on the local market. Conversely, news about regulatory green lights for crypto startups to engage with regulated financial organisations, such as a successful New York BitLicense application, has a markedly positive effect on markets.
Third, non-specific general warnings about the dangers of cryptocurrency investment and trading have a negligible effect on the market. The same also holds true of announcements by financial regulators and central banks announcing their own plans to issue central bank digital currency (CBDC). Markets generally ignore such pronouncements for good or for bad, which was seen earlier this year when the EU slapped down Estonia’s bid to issue a national cryptocurrency. The news had no noticeable negative effect on crypto markets, as did news of Venezuela’s plan to launch a state sanctioned cryptocurrency backed by its crude oil reserves.
The report’s final finding is that, despite crypto’s trans-border accessibility and functionality, significant price differences are still noticeable across jurisdictions, indicating that there is a significant level of market segmentation.
Explaining this phenomenon, an excerpt form the report reads:
“These results suggest that cryptocurrency markets rely on regulated financial institutions to operate and that these markets are segmented across jurisdictions, bringing cryptocurrencies within reach of national regulation. … Because they rely on regulated financial institutions to operate and markets are (still) segmented across jurisdictions, cryptocurrencies are within the reach of national regulation.”
The full BIS report can be downloaded here.