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MPs Call for Cryptocurrency Trading to be Regulated Like Gambling NOT Financial Services

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MPs warn that regulation via the FCA may cause an unintended ‘halo effect’ and mislead consumers about the safety of Crypto.

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin coins over tablet screen

Cryptocurrency investing and trading is fast becoming one of the most attractive ways to build a portfolio and start to see financial returns; however, in the UK and many other markets, cryptocurrency is still unregulated and attractive to fraudsters, making it a major risk for investors and their money.

Proposals for crypto regulation in the UK

In February 2023, the UK government announced plans to regulate crypto assets via the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in a similar way to the regulations imposed on traditional financial institutions, such as banks. The FCA is the Government backed regulatory body for the financial industry in the UK, responsible for regulating financial firms and services.

However, a recent report published by the cross-party UK Treasury Select Committee has called for crypto assets to be regulated in a manner more similar to gambling; describing digital currencies as having “no intrinsic value and social purpose” and warning that FCA regulation would cause a “halo effect”, leading consumers to believe that the activity is protected when it is not.

Following the new report, committee chair, Conservative MP Harriett Baldwin, said:

“Effective regulation is clearly needed to protect consumers from harm, as well as to support productive innovation in the UK’s financial services industry. However, with no intrinsic value, huge price volatility and no discernible social good, consumer trading of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin more closely resembles gambling than a financial service and should be regulated as such.”

The global regulatory watchdog, the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) has also recently outlined an 18-point plan for how jurisdictions should regulate crypto assets, throughout the asset’s life cycle, in order to “put an end to the risk of regulatory arbitrage”.

This is the first globally proposed plan to protect cryptocurrency investors, following a period of weakness for crypto and the recent collapse of crypto exchange FTX, which some experts claim would not have happened had the industry been regulated.

The rising popularity of cryptocurrency has led to a surge in cryptocurrency-related scams and illegal trading.

Fraudsters often use seemingly legitimate investment companies to lure in their victims, using a variety of techniques, including:

  • Claiming to be associated with well-known celebrities or public figures (often this is not the case).
  • Promising high returns with little or no risk.
  • Running social media adverts with impressive claims about ‘quick wins’.

As the cryptocurrency industry remains largely unregulated for now, it is very unlikely that your money will be protected by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) if you fall victim to a scam. However, if your money was transferred from a UK bank, you may be able to take action with the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), an independent body responsible for investigating disputes between financial institutions and consumers.

Many cryptocurrency scams occur using Authorised Push Payment (APP) fraud, an increasingly common form of cybercrime in which the individual being scammed is coached or manipulated into willingly transferring money to the scammer’s bank account, in what they believe to be a legitimate transaction, such as making an investment.

If you have lost money to an APP scam, you should immediately report the fraud to your bank, the police and also Action Fraud, the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre. This may trigger a criminal investigation into the scam. However, once the payment has been made, funds will often be moved on to another account, often overseas, or access to your portfolio may be revoked, making it virtually untraceable.

Sarah Spruce, Head of the Crypto Fraud team at TLW Solicitors, commented:

“The various proposals made by the Government, Treasury and IOSCO simply highlight the absolute necessity for regulation in the cryptocurrency industry. All investment opportunities come with an element of risk, but the lack of regulation for crypto means that it is ripe for the picking by fraudsters and illegal activities, and it is costing people their life savings.”

TLW Solicitors has years of experience successfully taking complaints against financial institutions to the Financial Ombudsman Service on a no-win, no-fee basis.

Our expert investments team will deal with your claim with efficiency and attention to detail. We understand the timescales, processes and intricacies involved in a FOS application, and our sophisticated case management systems mean you will always be kept up to date with the progress of your case.

If you, a friend, colleague or family member, have lost money to a cryptocurrency APP scam, please contact us for a no-obligation discussion to see if we can help you with a refund claim.

Call us on 0800 169 5925, email info@tlwsolicitors.co.uk or fill out one of the forms below.

Getting advice as soon as possible is essential as strict time limits can apply.
Minimum claim values also apply.

Meet Our Team

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