- People could “lose all their money” if they invest in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, the UK’s financial watchdog said on Monday.
- Bitcoin hit an all-time high of almost $42,000 on Friday but has since fallen to about $35,000.
- Regulators are increasingly concerned about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and are paying more attention to digital assets.
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People who invest in cryptocurrencies could well “lose all their money,” the UK’s financial regulator said on Monday as the volatile price of Bitcoin slid from an all-time high of almost $42,000.
Bitcoin’s startling rise of more than 300% over the past year has captured the attention of the public and institutional investors alike. But the cryptocurrency is highly volatile; from Friday to Monday, it dropped by about 15%, from a record high of about $41,800 to $34,645.
The cryptocurrency mania has also attracted the watchful eyes of financial regulators across the world. They worry that amateur investors could be sucked in only for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to collapse in value, as Bitcoin did in 2018.
Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority put it starkly in a statement: “If consumers invest in these types of product, they should be prepared to lose all their money.”
The watchdog said it was worried by some firms offering investments in or products linked to cryptocurrencies as they seek to capitalize on the rally.
“Significant price volatility in cryptoassets, combined with the inherent difficulties of valuing cryptoassets reliably, places consumers at a high risk of losses,” it said.
It added that “the complexity of some products and services relating to cryptoassets can make it hard for consumers to understand the risks.”
“There is no guarantee that cryptoassets can be converted back into cash. Converting a cryptoasset back to cash depends on demand and supply existing in the market.”
Memories of the collapse in Bitcoin’s price from late 2017 to early 2019 – when it dropped from almost $20,000 to below $4,000 – are weighing on regulators.
The FCA also stressed that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are largely unregulated. It said investors would be unlikely to have recourse as compensation or complaints “if something goes wrong.”
Regulators are attempting to tighten rules about cryptocurrencies. Since Sunday, the FCA has required all UK cryptocurrency firms to register with it, as part of regulations designed to tackle money laundering.
The US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in December floated the idea that companies could be required to collect information on the holders of cryptocurrency wallets.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who also runs the payments company Square, is among the critics of the idea, suggesting the unregulated nature of cryptocurrencies is one of the main attractions of the market.