Crypto Assets

In the recent past, there has been a rapid growth of crypto assets and crypto-related activities—at a global level—as well as several cases of abrupt collapse in the crypto asset market. These circumstances have been drawing the attention of international organizations and national authorities to the implications of crypto assets in terms of financial stability, potential macrofinancial effects, and the associated risks for users and individual investors. Crypto assets are mainly used for speculative purposes. They stand out for their cross-border and cross-sectional nature, which imposes limitations for their classification within existing legal and regulatory frameworks. They also stand out for the anonymity and use of pseudonyms, making it impossible to identify counterparties; the lack of backing assets or safeguards, evidencing risks for investors; and the lack of risk disclosure requirements, revealing information asymmetries and scarce transparency. These characteristics, together with the lack of information—which prevents an effective monitoring of developments and interconnections with the traditional financial system—suggest the need to adopt a cautious approach. Within this framework, policy responses have varied widely in scope and form, including approaches based on banning, risk mitigation, and regulation of activities. This diversity of responses reflects the challenges faced by policymakers, the differentiated effects of crypto assets in different economies, and the policy objectives of each jurisdiction.

The BCRA is carrying out monitoring activities in order to understand the use of crypto assets at a domestic level, with special emphasis on their implications and risks. In May 2021, the BCRA, together with the National Securities Commission (Comisión Nacional de Valores, CNV), issued a warning highlighting the high volatility of these instruments, the risks associated with operational disruptions, cyberattacks, money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as the potential non-compliance with foreign exchange regulations and the absence of safeguards provided by current regulations. In May 2022, the BCRA established that financial institutions under its scope may not participate—directly or indirectly—in the offering of crypto assets to customers in order to mitigate the risks associated with crypto-related activities for users and the financial system as a whole.

References to BCRA's actions and publications on crypto assets are displayed below, followed by a selected set of publications from other central banks and international organizations that seeks to reflect the wide variety of assessments of risks associated with crypto assets and the policy actions to address them.

BCRA's Actions

05/04/2023 | Payment Service Providers May Not Carry Out Transactions with Crypto Assets or Allow Their Clients to Make Them

05/05/2022 | El BCRA desalienta la oferta de criptoactivos a través del sistema financiero

05/20/2021 | Alerta del BCRA y la CNV sobre los riesgos e implicancias de los criptoactivos

BCRA's Publications

07/07/2022 | Criptoactivos. Algunos desarrollos recientes y principales implicancias. Apartado 3 del Informe de Estabilidad Financiera (IEF), july 2022.

11/14/2019 | Stablecoins. Avances e implicancias para la estabilidad financiera. Apartado 3 del Informe de Estabilidad Financiera (IEF), november 2019.

11/14/2018 | Criptoactivos: innovación tecnológica y estabilidad financiera. Apartado 1 del Informe de Estabilidad Financiera, segundo semestre de 2018.

Other Publications

European Central Bank

Panetta, F. (2023) (ECB's Executive Board), Caveat emptor does not apply to crypto, artículo publicado en el Blog del European Central Bank (ECB), january 2023. Versión en español, traducción no oficial por BCRA.

Panetta, F. (2023) (ECB's Executive Board), Crypto dominos: the bursting crypto bubbles and the destiny of digital finance, discurso, december 2022. Versión en español, traducción no oficial por BCRA.

The White House

Biden, J.B. (2022) (The White House), Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets, march 2022.

Federal Reserve

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (2023), Joint Statement on Crypto-Asset Risks to Banking Organizations, january 2023. Versión en español, traducción no oficial por BCRA.

Gibson, M.S. et al. (FED´s Staff), SR 22-6 / CA 22-6: Engagement in Crypto-Asset-Related Activities by Federal Reserve-Supervised Banking Organizations, august 2022. Versión en español, traducción no oficial por BCRA.

International Organizations

Aquilina, M. et al. (BIS´ Staff) (2023), Addressing the risks in crypto: laying out the options, BIS Bulletin No 66, january 2023.

Bank for International Settlements (BIS) (2022), Prudential treatment of cryptoasset exposures, december 2022.

Bank for International Settlements (BIS) (2022), Chapter 3: The future monetary system, BIS Annual Economic Report, june 2022.

He, D. et al. (IMF´s Staff) (2022), Capital Flow Management Measures in the Digital Age: Challenges of Crypto Assets, FinTech Notes No 2022/005, may 2022.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2023a), G20 Note on the Macrofinancial Implications of Crypto Assets, february 2023.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2023b), Elements of Effective Policies for Crypto Assets, Policy Paper No. 2023/004, february 2023.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) (2021), Chapter 2: The Crypto Ecosystem and Financial Stability Challenges, Global Financial Stability Report, october de 2021.

Financial Stability Board (FSB) (2022a), Assessment of Risks to Financial Stability from Crypto-assets, february 2022

Financial Stability Board (FSB) (2022b), FSB Statement on International Regulation and Supervision of Crypto-asset Activities, july 2022.

Financial Stability Board (FSB) (2022c), Regulation, Supervision and Oversight of Crypto-Asset Activities and Markets: Consultative report, october 2022.

Financial Stability Board (FSB) (2022d), Review of the FSB High-level Recommendations of the Regulation, Supervision and Oversight of “Global Stablecoin” Arrangements: Consultative report, october 2022.

Fuje, H. et al. (IMF’s African Department) (2022), Digital Currency Innovations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Regional Economic Outlook: Sub-Saharan Africa Analytical Note, october 2022.

Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs (2023b), Press Release on Panel Discussion on "Policy Perspective: Debating the Road to Policy Consensus on Crypto Assets", february 2023.

Shin, H. (BIS’s Economic Adviser and Head of Research) (2022), The great crypto crisis is upon us, artículo de opinión publicado en Financial Times, december 2022.

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