Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Douglas Arner et al on The financialisation of Crypto: Designing an international regulatory consensus (CLSR)

"The financialisation of Crypto: Designing an international regulatory consensus"
Douglas Arner, Dirk A Zetzsche, Ross P Buckley, Jamieson M Kirkwood
Computer Law and Security Review, Volume 53
Published online: May 2024

Abstract: Bitcoin was presented in 2008 as a technology-driven alternative to the weaknesses of the traditional monetary, payment and financial systems dramatically highlighted by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. The underlying technology – blockchain and distributed ledger technology – was posed as a technological solution to the problems of trust, confidence, transparency and behaviour traditionally addressed in finance through a framework of law, regulation and institutions (including markets and the state). Cryptocurrencies, blockchain, distributed ledger technology and decentralised finance were designed to address the weaknesses and risks in traditional finance. Yet fifteen years of evolution culminating in the Crypto Winter of 2022–23 have demonstrated that crypto is neither special nor immune and has come to feature all the classic problems of traditional finance. As the crypto ecosystem has evolved, the market failures and externalities of traditional finance have emerged – a process we term the ‘financialisation’ of crypto. These include conflicts of interests, information asymmetries, centralisation and interconnections, over-enthusiastic market participants, plus agency, operational and financial risks. We argue that (a) in order to develop successfully going forward, the crypto ecosystem needs to assimilate the centuries of experience of underpinning traditional finance with law and regulation, and (b) in the aftermath of the Crypto Winter, an international consensus is crystalising in respect of the regulation of the crypto ecosystem. We argue regulatory systems are now being instituted to ensure the proper functioning of crypto and its interconnections with traditional finance. The lessons of the financialisation of crypto also apply more broadly: appropriately designed regulatory systems are central to financial market functioning and development.

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