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Global regulators say crypto currencies need vigilant monitoring

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LONDON (Reuters) - Crypto assets such as bitcoin do not pose a threat to financial stability but monitoring is needed along with possible action to protect consumers, the global Financial Stability Board said on Wednesday.

While price increases in crypto assets have been larger than comparable historical asset bubbles, market capitalization remains small compared with other financial markets, the FSB said.

“Based on the available information, crypto-assets do not pose a material risk to global financial stability at this time. However, vigilant monitoring is needed in light of the speed of market developments,” the FSB said in a statement.

Nonetheless, the FSB said: “Illiquidity, concentrated ownership, fragmented market structure, and other issues also make crypto-asets potentially susceptible to price manipulation.”

It said total market capitalization peaked at $830 billion in January, with a third accounted for by bitcoin alone, dropping to $210 billion by last week or just 2.8 percent of the global value of gold.

“Crypto-assets also raise several broader policy issues, such as the need for consumer and investor protection,” the FSB said.

The board, which coordinates financial regulation for the Group of 20 Economies (G20), published a 17-page report to elaborate on its views on crypto assets.

The report confirmed an initial assessment the FSB gave to G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in March that there was not enough consensus for global rules, given the differing approaches being taken nationally.

Earlier this week, however, European Union regulators said tailored rules may be needed as warnings to investors about crypto assets have not been effective.

The FSB said that monitoring potential risks in the sector was challenging due to poor data on direct and indirect exposures of banks and others.

(Graphic: FSB graphic of crypto assets - reut.rs/2Oj9Peg)

Reuters Graphic

Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Alison Williams

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