Global rules leave crypto firms with no place to hide, says G20 watchdog

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) - Globally agreed rules leave crypto firms with no option but to introduce basic safeguards to prevent the blow-ups seen at FTX exchange and other crypto casualties, the G20's Financial Stability Board said on Monday.

The FSB published on Monday final recommendations requested by the G20 on supervising firms that trade cryptoassets such as bitcoin. The watchdog also revised its existing recommendations for stablecoins in light of the demise of TerraUSD/Luna coins.

Both borrow universal guard rails from mainstream finance before the sector grows big enough to pose a threat to financial stability by focusing on robust governance to avoid conflicts of interest, and proper risk management and disclosures to ensure that customer money is segregated from company cash.

"As recent events have illustrated, if linkages to traditional finance were to grow further, spillovers from cryptoasset markets into the broader financial system could increase," the FSB said.

The collapse of FTX in November 2022 highlighted vulnerabilities from crypto firms and the FSB said that all countries should apply the recommendations, even those that are not members of the watchdog. FTX was based in the Bahamas, not an FSB member.

"Therefore, cryptoasset players need to stop operating outside the regulatory perimeter or in non-compliance with existing rules," FSB Secretary General John Schindler told reporters.

"These players can no longer argue there is a lack of regulatory clarity, as our framework makes clear the standards that should apply." Schindler said.

Bitcoin has reached 13-month highs as the sector recovers from last year's rout, bolstered by a landmark legal victory for Ripple Labs Inc on Thursday, which had challenged regulators over how far tokens should come under U.S. securities law.

The European Union has already approved the world's first comprehensive set of rules for cryptoasset markets, but the FSB's 'global baseline' minimum standards are designed to accommodate jurisdictions that want to go further.

The FSB norms are expected to be made more granular by additional measures from global banking and securities watchdogs Basel Committee and IOSCO.

IOSCO proposed in May the first global approach to regulating crypto market day-to-day operations.

The FSB, whose members commit to applying agreed norms, will review how they are put into place by the end of 2025.

(Reporting by Huw Jones, Editing by Louise Heavens)