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Basel Committee posts discussion paper on prudential treatment of crypto-assets

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision published Dec. 12 a discussion paper to seek views on a range of issues related to the prudential regulation of crypto-assets from various stakeholders and market participants.

The committee is looking to discuss the design of a prudential treatment for banks' crypto-asset exposures based on their features and risk characteristics. It is also keen to assess an illustrative example of potential capital and liquidity requirements for exposures to high-risk crypto-assets.

In March, the committee warned that financial products related to crypto-assets and of trading platforms offering them could have implications for financial stability and increase the risks that banks face. In January 2018, the estimated market capitalization of crypto-assets exceeded $800 billion, and since certain types of crypto-assets are not legal tender and not backed by governments or public authorities, banks should apply a conservative prudential treatment to such exposures, according to the committee.

Certain crypto-assets — which are sometimes referred to as "stablecoins" — have the potential to become systemically important, but require further assessment before identifying a prudential treatment, the committee said.

The committee will seek stakeholder input and issue a consultation paper should it specify a prudential treatment. A specified regulation will establish a minimum standard for international banks, while different countries will be allowed to apply additional conservative measures if required.

Comments on the discussion paper by stakeholders, including banks, central banks, finance ministries, payment system operators and providers, supervisory authorities, technology companies and the general public are to be submitted by March 13, 2020, the committee said.