United States, Great Britain, European Union: all are striving to catch up with Switzerland’s visionary approach to cryptocurrency regulation.
The year 2022 has witnessed several major changes in public policies towards digital assets in the United States, the United Kingdom and within the European Union. Each country is trying to catch up with Switzerland, which published clear policy guidelines several years ago and is now the headquarters of many companies specializing in digital assets. With hindsight, these announcements are clear signs of the integration of digital assets within current regulatory and legislative frameworks in different parts of the world. The digital asset ecosystem is no longer the Wild West it once was. It is maturing, it is becoming safer and a greater number of players will benefit from its increased regulation.
The digital asset ecosystem hit an all-time high of over $3 trillion in market capitalization in November 20211 . The benefits of these new technologies, such as increased speed, accessibility and transparency, can no longer be ignored. At the same time, its potential risks, including those related to cybersecurity and criminal activity, are now well known. Governments that manage to strike the right balance of policies will welcome a new wave of technological change, and the jobs, tax revenues and welfare that come with it.
The first major announcement came from the United States. In March, the Biden administration announced the Executive Order for the Responsible Development of Digital Assets.2. It is a well-written policy document that clearly outlines the potential benefits and risks of digital assets and calls on various federal agencies to investigate and provide recommendations on how the United States can remain “a global leader in the growing development and adoption of digital assets and associated innovations,” and can “defend against certain key risks, require evolution and alignment of the U.S. public approach to towards digital assets.”
Not wishing to be left behind, the UK Treasury has announced plans to make the UK the “global cryptocurrency hub”3. Although details are scant, some initial initiatives include “legislating a ‘financial market infrastructure enabling environment’ to help businesses innovate, a ‘CryptoSprint’ led by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), a collaboration with the Royal Mint on an NFT, and a dialogue group that will work more closely with the industry.”
Finally, the proposal for a market in crypto assets (“Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA)”) is following its path through various working groups to the European Parliament4. While the wording of this proposal is under constant review, if it continues on its way, it will ultimately be reviewed by the Parliament, the European Commission and the Council of Europe in order to provide the EU with a unified regulatory framework for digital assets. .
Each government will take a slightly different approach depending on their own local political structure, the degree of development of the digital asset industry in their country, and other political imperatives. The Swiss government has been a pioneer and now hosts many companies specializing in digital assets. It is possible to pay taxes in Bitcoin or Ether in Zug since 20215. Lugano recently announced its intention to make certain digital assets legal tender66. Other countries are now trying to catch up.
For years, the question was often asked about digital assets: “what if the government bans them?” However, it turns out that many governments are now competing to accommodate companies that use these technologies.