This research was conducted by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School with the support of the Nomura Research Institute (NRI). A number of external contributors have joined the CCAF research team to produce this comprehensive, systematic, and comparative analysis of the current regulatory landscape of cryptoassets and related activities. The study covers 22 jurisdictions and is based on both desktop research and in-person interviews with regulators and policymakers. The report aims to compare and contrast various regulatory approaches and practices with regards to cryptoassets in a number of jurisdictions and shed light on current regulatory challenges and opportunities.
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Section 1 sets out a theoretical framework to conceptualise cryptoassets and related activities. It looks at three key aspects in a regulatory context: (1) the nature and form of cryptoassets, (2) the issuance of cryptoassets, and (3) intermediated activities in the life cycle of cryptoassets. A number of regulatory recommendations are brought forward, which include:
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Traditional assets recorded on a distributed ledger technology (DLT) infrastructure (i.e. tokenisation) should be distinguished from new and natively-digital cryptoassets with unique characteristics. The fundamentally new characteristic of a natively-digital cryptoasset is the incentive role that it may play in a particular network;
A legal and regulatory classification of a cryptoasset should be based on an in-depth assessment of several factors (e.g. rights attached, access, economic function of the token) generally on a case-by-case basis.
The majority of cryptoasset-related activities carried out by intermediaries show strong similarities to existing financial activities found in traditional markets (e.g. exchange and trading), and therefore might be regulated as such. Only a relatively small number of cryptoasset-specific activities can be considered novel (e.g. mining).
Section 2 provides a global comparative analysis of cryptoasset regulation in 22 jurisdictions. It examines regulatory authorities regulating cryptoassets, their current definition and classification of cryptoassets and related activities, as well as regulatory processes and responses (e.g. existing regulation, retrofitted regulation, bespoke regulation and bespoke regulatory regime). Key findings of this section include:
The scope of different regulatory authorities (“regulatory perimeter”) can and often does overlap when regulating cryptoasset activities. Our research shows that, on average, three distinct national bodies per jurisdiction have issued official statements on cryptoassets, including warnings;
The extension of the initial study sample from 22 jurisdictions to 40 jurisdictions reveals that central banks have usually been the first type of regulatory authority to issue official statements (including warnings about cryptoassets), followed by government departments (e.g. Ministry of Finance), and financial supervisory bodies;
Based on the augmented sample of 40 jurisdictions, it appears that the majority of official cryptoasset-related statements by regulators were issued during 2013, the year in which cryptoassets went mainstream as a result of prices reaching new all-time highs;
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