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This article was published on February 6, 2020

UK financial regulator seeks cryptocurrency and blockchain expert

Is this a signal that more financial regs are incoming?

UK financial regulator seeks cryptocurrency and blockchain expert
Matthew Beedham
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Matthew Beedham

Editor, SHIFT by TNW

Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.

One of the UK’s main financial industry regulators is looking to better understand cryptocurrency.

According to a job listing posted earlier today, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), the independent agency that oversees and regulates financial product offerings in the country, wants to hire a cryptocurrency expert.

[Read: UK regulator wants crypto-derivatives ban to protect ‘ill-suited’ investors]

The candidate

More specifically, the FCA is looking for someone who’s experienced in working with “crypto-assets,” distributed ledgers, blockchains, and emerging fintech products.

Throughout the listing, there is a particular emphasis on compliance, crime, and 5MLD (EU’s 5th Money Laundering Directive).

You will enjoy a unique view of the financial services industry, law enforcement partners and UK government with the opportunity to do meaningful work that makes a real difference in protecting consumers, our firms, and UK financial services industry against financial crime harm.

On that theme, the FCA expects the right candidate to also have good working knowledge of specific legislation, including: Financial Services and Markets Act, Regulation of Investigatory Powers, and General Data Protection Regulations.

The job

It goes as no surprise that the main responsibility for the candidate is to act as an internal expert on all things related to cryptocurrency, and its possible regulation.

The successful candidate will be responsible for providing “intelligence support and advice” to other parts of the FCA that are tasked with regulating the sector.

In other words, it sounds like the FCA is looking for someone to conduct due diligence on institutional cryptocurrency and blockchain-based financial products. Ones that may, in the future, be offered to investors.

What does it mean?

Given the prevalence of cryptocurrency in recent years, and the vast number of scams, it’s about time that the FCA stepped up its game in monitoring the sector.

Daniel Williams, a UK-based Independent Financial Advisor at Morgan Williams & Co, told Hard Fork this is a positive step forward for the FCA.

“The FCA has tried to modernize its thinking over the past few years, it’s their duty to try to keep up with new assets and technologies,” he added.

Indeed, the move to hire a dedicated cryptocurrency expert shows the FCA believes cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

Williams is not surprised the FCA is investing time and money to bolster its understanding of digital assets. But it should be noted, this move isn’t about readying the world for institutional cryptocurrency investment products, but rather, it’s about consumer protection, he said.

While the FCA is clearly aware of the dangers posed by cryptocurrencies, more can certainly be done to protect consumers in the UK.

Last year, an FCA found that most Brits don’t have a clue about cryptocurrency, but are still willing to invest. In May, the FCA reported that British investors lost a total of £27 million ($34 million) to cryptocurrency scams over the 2018/19 financial year.

In the long run, Williams expects the FCA to use its understanding in cryptocurrency to move into regulating how crypto assets should be held, whether they are suitable for retail investors, and how they should be marketed to the consumer.

Last July, the FCA announced that it would be regulating some cryptocurrencies, and lobbied for a ban on “crypto-derivatives” to protect ill-suited to retail investors.

With the addition of a cryptocurrency specialist, this could be a sign there’s more to come from the FCA.

Hard Fork has contacted the FCA for comment, we will update this article when we hear back.

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