'UK crypto regulation could take up to two years'
A leading legal expert has warned that UK regulation of the cryptocurrency market could still take up to two years to introduce.
James Kaufmann, legal director at corporate and insurance law firm RPC, says his prediction is based on the "best-case scenario" where proposals in a recent House of Commons Treasury Committee report start to be progressed.
The process of introducing the necessary regulations, along with the required consultation period, will be a difficult and lengthy one.
Kaufmann argues that past precedents show it can take years to make relatively minor regulatory changes to the financial regulatory regime.
"Even if MPs' latest proposals were fast tracked, it could still take years for regulations to cover the UK cryptocurrency market that treads the middle ground between protecting retail participants and allowing the UK's cryptocurrency market to thrive," he said.
"Bringing a complex and fast evolving area like cryptocurrencies into a regulatory framework is going to be a difficult and lengthy process. Added to this, big issues like Brexit are already occupying a lot of regulator's time."
To regulate cryptocurrencies, Kaufmann says HM Treasury will first need to assess which specific activities related to cryptocurrencies need regulations, after which they would need to draft proposed regulations open to consultation.
After that, they would need to publish changes and set an implementation date.
But despite the time-consuming process, Kaufmann stressed that the race to establish a workable and regulated regime for cryptocurrencies is "surely worth winning as their usage becomes more widespread across Europe and globally".
"The creation of a cryptocurrency trading hub may also have positive knock-on effects for businesses serving these markets, such as brokers, investment banks, and custodians as well as a potential increase in tax revenues for authorities," he added.
In September, the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons called for a resolution to certain issues surrounding cryptocurrencies such as listing price volatility, poor consumer protection, the risk of hacker attacks and money laundering.