Cryptocurrency and Its Regulations by Alex Reinhardt

December 12, 2022

Crypto assets have existed for over a decade but attempt to regulate them have only recently risen to the top of the legislative agenda. This is partly because crypto assets have become widespread as speculative investments, hedges against weak currencies, and possible payment tools within the last few years.

The rapid, volatile surge in the market capitalization of crypto assets and their encroachment into the regulated financial system have prompted greater regulatory attempts. Likewise, the proliferation of crypto’s many goods and offers and the growing technologies that have enabled issuance and transactions have also encouraged such growth. The failures of crypto issuers, exchanges, and hedge funds, together with a recent decline in crypto prices, have bolstered the need to regulate.

Applying current regulatory frameworks to crypto assets or building new regulatory frameworks is a challenge for several reasons. To begin with, Alex Reinhardt agrees the crypto world is fast changing; given their limited resources and several competing goals, regulators need help to obtain the personnel and develop the skills necessary to stay up. Monitoring crypto markets is tough due to fragmented data and the difficulty for authorities in keeping track of hundreds of participants that may not be subject to standard disclosure or reporting obligations.

Understanding the Challenges of Crypto Regulations

The term used to describe the many operations, goods, and stakeholders need to be internationally standardized, further complicating problems. Alex Reinhardt describes a “crypto asset” as a broad range of digital items privately produced using comparable technology (cryptography and often distributed ledgers) and that can be kept and sold largely via digital wallets and exchanges. The actual or planned usage of crypto assets may simultaneously draw the attention of several domestic authorities with fundamentally distinct frameworks and aims, including those for banking, commodities, securities, and payments. Some authorities may emphasize consumer protection, while others favor security or financial integrity. And there are various crypto players, miners, validators, and protocol creators that are difficult to regulate using conventional financial means.

Typically, entities participating in financial markets can engage in certain activities under specific circumstances and within a set scope. However, the accompanying governance, prudence, and fiduciary obligations are not readily transferred to system participants, who may be difficult to identify owing to the underlying technology or who could sometimes play a casual or voluntary part in the system. The unraveling of contradictory tasks concentrated in certain centralized companies, such as cryptocurrency exchanges, may be a consideration for regulation. In addition, Alex Reinhardt supports creating a framework that can monitor and control both actors and operations in the crypto ecosystem, national authorities may also be required to take a stance on how the innovation used to create crypto assets compares to other public policy objectives, such as the enormous energy intensity of “mining” certain types of crypto assets.

Crypto assets are electronically stored and access codes. They could or might not be supported by physical or monetary collateral. Their value may or might not be stabilized by being tied to the value of fiat currency, other pricing, or valuable goods. Specifically, the electronic life cycle of crypto assets magnifies the complete spectrum of technology-related hazards regulators are currently laboring to include in conventional legislation. These primarily consist of cyber and operational risks, which have been brought to light by high-profile losses resulting from hacking or unintentional loss of control, access, or data.

If the crypto asset system had stayed closed, some of these issues might have been less significant; this is no longer the case. Numerous aspects of the financial system, such as providing leverage and liquidity, lending, and asset storage, are being imitated in the crypto realm. Players from the mainstream are battling for money and vying for a piece of the action. These factors are increasing demands for the “same activity, same risk, same rule” paradigm to be applied to the crypto world, with the appropriate modifications, increasing the pressure on regulators to act. It poses an additional dilemma for public policy; How closely can the two systems be connected before the crypto world need the same central bank facilities and safety nets? According to Forbes, the future of U.S. crypto regulation is uncertain as officials continue to investigate the sector and determine the best course of action; research by Alex Reinhardt shows the U.S. Treasury Department is anticipated to complete an “illicit finance risk assessment” for decentralized financing (DeFi) by early in 2023.