Things have been looking up again for cryptocurrencies of late. After bitcoin passed over $10,000 again in mid-February the markets seemed to stabilize to some degree. We haven’t seen a surge akin to anything from late 2017, but the crash, at least, seems to have bottomed up and rebounded. While still somewhat volatile from day to day, bitcoin seems to have found a comfortable trading range for the time being.
That said we’re also seeing a fair amount of regulatory news of late, and as we know that can affect the price both negatively and positively moving forward. Many who have been in on cryptocurrency for a few years now are used to the idea that regulation ought to be virtually non-existent. A guide to regulatory and legal status written a couple years ago specifically noted that at that time accountancy firms thought it may be too soon in the currency’s life for regulation to be tried. That seemed to be the status quo for some time, but the implication was that at some point regulation would make more sense. And at least in some countries with fairly influential crypto markets, we’re starting to see tighter policies creeping in.
China – Early this month reports emerged that China was moving to block domestic access to overseas websites offering cryptocurrency trading. This comes after China already banned ICOs and closed its domestic virtual currency exchanges, indicating that China is looking to take a more comprehensive approach to restricting cryptocurrency. It’s hard to know the impact just yet, but this is all worth keeping an eye on.
Austria – In an attempt to curb the potential for crypto-based money laundering, the Austrian finance minister is considering basing regulation on trading rules already in place for gold and derivatives. This might not make for particularly drastic changes on the trader side of things, but it’s noteworthy particularly because Austria’s goal is to push this as reform across the entire EU.
Great Britain – Britain is a new name in this conversation, but its Treasury Committee is launching an inquiry into digital currencies in an attempt to gain more understanding of where regulation might be needed and what form it might require. While the British do not seem at all interested in banning cryptocurrency, they are exploring policies based on other regulatory positions around the world (such as South Korea’s decision to ban the anonymous trading of cryptocurrencies). It appears that in Britain we’re still very early in this process, however.
Beyond these three recent stories, East Asia has been in the news for much of 2018 due to changing positions toward cryptocurrency regulation. But as of late February there are no drastic changes in major economies that have taken place recently. This may be partly responsible for the market stabilizing to some degree, but it’s still important to keep an eye on regulatory news moving forward.
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