17 March 2021
As crypto-assets, including so-called virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, continue to attract public attention, the European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA – together the ‘ESAs’) recall the continued relevance of their previous warnings.
The ESAs remind consumers that some crypto-assets are highly risky and speculative and, as stated in the ESAs’ February 2018 joint warning, consumers must be alert to the high risks of buying and/or holding these instruments, including the possibility of losing all their money.
Additionally, crypto-assets come in many forms but the majority of them remain unregulated in the EU. This means that consumers buying and/or holding these instruments do not benefit from the guarantees and safeguards associated with regulated financial services.
In September 2020, the European Commission presented a legislative proposal for a regulation on markets in crypto-assets. Consumers are reminded that the proposal remains subject to the outcome of the co-legislative process and so consumers do not currently benefit from any of the safeguards foreseen in that proposal because it not yet EU law.
The EBA is continuously monitoring crypto-asset developments and taking actions to promote knowledge-sharing between competent authorities with the objectives of promoting consistency in regulatory and supervisory approaches to, and understanding of, crypto-assets and acting where needed to address risk (notably in the context of the EBA’s warnings to consumers, and advice to the European Commission on the need for a common EU framework for crypto-asset activities both to leverage opportunities and mitigate risks arising from these activities).
EBA report on crypto-assets with advice for the European Commission (January 2019)
EBA Opinion (July 2014) and EBA Opinion (August 2016) on virtual currencies which, inter alia, recommended that supervisory authorities discourage credit institutions, payment institutions and electronic money institutions from buying, holding or selling so-called virtual currencies, and recommended bringing certain virtual currency actors into the scope of the EU’s anti-money laundering framework (changes that were brought about by Directive (EU) 2018/843 (AMLD5))
EBA warning on virtual currencies to make consumers aware of the risks (December 2013)