ESMA Won’t Ban Blockchain and Considers Regulation Premature

Just recently Bitcoin.com reported on the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Senior Risk Analysis Officer, Patrick Armstrong’s opinion to ban blockchain platforms. However, on February 7 the ESMA has released a report stating that regulating the technology at this early stage is “premature.”

Also read: European Commission’s New Boost for Bitcoin and Blockchain Startups

ESMA Says Regulating Blockchain Would Be ‘Premature’

ESMA Won't Ban Blockchain and Considers Regulation PrematureThe European market regulatory agency the ESMA has revealed it believes regulating blockchain technology at this time would be premature. The ESMA has been researching distributed ledger technology (DLT) for quite some time in order to craft regulatory framework. Then in November, ESMA executive Patrick Armstrong told attendees at a blockchain conference the technology could be banned. However, the report issued by the ESMA on February 7 is quite different than Armstrong’s approach.

“At this stage, ESMA believes that it is premature to fully appreciate the changes that the technology could bring and the regulatory response that may be needed, given that the technology is still evolving and practical applications are limited both in number and scope,” explains the ESMA’s recent report.

Distributed Ledger Technology May Be Innovative But Not Excluded From Regulation

ESMA Won't Ban Blockchain and Considers Regulation PrematureThe report states the ESMA believes digital currency solutions and DLT innovation can bring numerous benefits to financial markets. This includes “more efficient post-trade services, enhanced reporting capabilities, and reduced costs. ESMA expects the early applications of DLT to focus on optimizing processes using the current market structure,” says the EU’s regulatory agency.

However, the ESMA believes there are significant regulatory challenges ahead for DLTs. Issues include interoperability with other frameworks, privacy problems, and investment risks. The ESMA says that even though these technologies are innovative, they are not excluded from current regulations and laws. The ESMA report explains:

The development of a new technology, such as DLT, does not liberate users from complying with the existing regulatory framework, which provides important safeguards to ensure the stability and proper functioning of financial markets.

Unable to Assess a Regulatory Response for Blockchain

For now, at this stage, the ESMA is unable to fully assess the regulatory response needed to deal with blockchain technology. It is “premature” to apply regulations to a “technology still evolving, and practical applications are limited both in number and scope,” the ESMA adds.

Going forward the ESMA details it will continue to monitor blockchain market development and assess when a regulatory response is needed. The European agency calls for “active engagement” from existing regulators in regards to DLT frameworks.

“Active engagement from regulators and coordination at EU and international level are paramount in ESMA’s view to ensure both that DLT does not create unintended risks and that its benefits are not hindered by undue obstacles,” details the EU regulatory committee. “Meanwhile, ESMA believes that the industry should work towards solutions to address the challenges posed by the technology.”

What do you think about the ESMA taking a hands-off approach to blockchain technology regulation? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of the ESMA website, Shutterstock, and Pixabay.


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