The world’s first comprehensive set of laws to govern the cryptocurrency sector was passed by the EU Parliament on Thursday, April 20, 2023, to combat money laundering and enhance oversight, and consumer protection. The Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) rules, which were approved by a vote of 529 to 29 and will begin to take effect in stages in 2024, are the most significant effort by governments throughout the world to control the expanding market for digital assets. In a statement, the European Union expressed its hope that the new legislation will serve as a benchmark for other countries.
MiCA, which was first proposed in 2020, marks progress in a regulatory area where the United States has slipped behind. Last year, President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing federal agencies to research the effects of the sector on the economy. That was prior to the cryptocurrency crash, which included prominent failures such as the FTX exchange and Terra project and sparked a crackdown by the SEC.
Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank and a major proponent of MiCA, described the new rules as an imperative requirement following the collapse of FTX; she even proposed that MiCA II should expand upon the new regulation.
MiCA will place a number of obligations on cryptocurrency traders, platforms and token issuers about disclosure, transparency, authorization and transaction monitoring. One of the significant regulatory reforms is the tracking of transactions totaling more than $1,097.551 from decentralized wallets, such as those housed on cryptocurrency exchanges, to centralized wallets. Transfers between peers or those involving no centralized wallet will be exempt from the rules.
Consumers will be entitled to information from platforms about the risks involved in using them, and new token sales will also be subject to regulation.
Stablecoins such as Circle’s USDC and Tether will be required to retain enough reserves on hand to satisfy redemption requests in the event of significant withdrawals.
Platforms that fail to sufficiently protect investors and jeopardize market integrity or financial stability will be subject to intervention by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), which will have the power to ban or restrict them. MiCA also addresses the environmental problems associated with cryptocurrencies by compelling companies to disclose their energy consumption and the environmental impacts of digital assets.
Although the MiCA laws cover a wide range of unregulated digital assets, they are not all inclusive. Assets such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), for example, are exempt from the rules.
As more countries and jurisdictions pass enabling laws, industry actors such as Canaan Inc. (NASDAQ: CAN) will have more certainty about the regulatory climate in which they operate and they will therefore be better able to accurately plan their strategy and operations.
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