European Commission Roundtable: Blockchain ‘Holds Promise,’ Investors Must Know Risks

The European Commission has hosted a roundtable[1] titled “Cryptocurrencies – Opportunities and Risks,” covering the influence of crypto on financial markets and problems arising with Initial Coin Offerings[2] (ICO) Monday, Feb. 26.

The roundtable was chaired by Valdis Dombrovskis, the Commission’s Vice-President in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union.

The Commission’s press release described the event as a place for European Union[3] organizations, countries, central banks, academics, and entrepreneurs to “respond to the challenges posed by so-called cryptocurrencies (virtual currencies) and their underlying Blockchain[4] technology.

The conference was broken up into three themes: crypto and financial markets, investor protection and market integrity, and ICOs.

After the roundtable concluded, Dombrovskis told the press that since Europe has such a small share of crypto trading, which he referred to as a “global phenomenon,” the next step is a discussion of the same topics at the G20 level, echoing the opinions of French[5] and European Central Bank’s[6] officials.

He told one journalist that he would also not exclude the possibility of moving ahead on regulation at an EU level, pending future events in the crypto world.

He added that “Blockchain technology holds strong promise for financial markets,” and that steps must be made to not hinder technological innovation.

Dombrovskis repeated the EU regulators’ previous stance[7] on the risks involved in investing and trading in crypto at the end of his roundtable press debrief, saying that “warnings about those risks to consumers, to investors, must be clear, frequent, and across all jurisdictions.”

Last Friday, Austria’s Finance Minister Hartwig Löger spoke about his idea[8] for basing crypto regulations on those already in place for gold[9] and derivatives, as well as possible pan-European Union crypto regulations on this basis.

A fintech action plan is expected to be presented by the European Commission in early March.