The Financial Stability Board (FSB) today published a report on the financial stability implications of multifunction crypto-asset intermediaries (MCI).
MCIs are individual firms, or groups of affiliated firms – such as FTX (prior to its failure) – that combine a broad range of crypto-asset services, products, and functions typically centred around the operation of a trading platform. Most of these activities have analogues in traditional finance but are often not provided by the same entity or are restricted or controlled to prevent conflicts of interest and promote market integrity, investor protection, and financial stability.
The report notes that MCI vulnerabilities are not so different from those in traditional finance: leverage, liquidity mismatch, technology and operational vulnerabilities and interconnections. It warns that certain combinations of functions could exacerbate these vulnerabilities. For example, the engagement of MCIs in proprietary trading, market making on their own trading venues, and the lending and borrowing of crypto-assets could lead to higher leverage. MCIs offering investment programmes to their users, issuing proprietary crypto-assets, or operating investment and venture capital arms may also be exposed to liquidity mismatch. These vulnerabilities are further amplified by a lack of effective controls, for example, governance and risk management frameworks; operational transparency, with poor or no disclosures; and by conflicts of interest. There are also additional vulnerabilities stemming from the centrality of MCIs in the crypto-asset ecosystem and their concentration and market power.
The report notes that while the threat to global financial stability and to the real economy from the failure of an MCI appears limited at present, significant information gaps remain. The closure or failure of a few “crypto-asset-friendly” banks earlier this year highlights the risks from increasing interconnectedness with the traditional financial system. Financial stability implications – both at individual jurisdiction and global levels – depend on how the crypto-asset sector develops, how the role of MCIs changes within the sector, the extent to which MCIs expand their linkages with traditional finance, and the effective implementation and enforcement of comprehensive and consistent regulations to the crypto-asset markets globally.
The report identifies issues for consideration by the FSB in collaboration with standard-setting bodies:
■ To assess whether the amplification risks for combinations of MCI functions as well as lack of proper governance and conflict of interest are adequately covered by FSB and SSB recommendations or warrant additional mitigating policy measures.
■ To consider ways to enhance cross-border cooperation and information sharing to help local authorities effectively regulate MCIs operating globally.
■ To consider ways to address the information gaps identified in the report
Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker