The legitimacy and efficacy of the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology industry has been a hot topic of debate among governments and leading financial institutions in recent years. In spite of the growing global movement to invest in popular digital currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, some major key players remain unconvinced and even hostile towards its official regulation.
According to a recent publication, Andreas Utterman, CEO of Allianz Global Investors, has stated that cryptocurrencies in their entirety should not be regulated. On the contrary, Utterman believes that the European Union should instead move to have the digital phenomenon outlawed across the region.
He recently voiced his position to the head of the Financial Conduct Authority in Britain, stating
“Cryptocurrency should be outlawed. I am surprised that regulators haven’t put in more effort in the industry.”
For those unaware, Allianz Global Investors are a leading asset management organization that are responsible for 500 billion Euros in client funds. The company employs close to 3,000 staff members and have offices in over 20 jurisdictions.
The Current General Consensus
The general consensus at the moment appears to lean towards stringent regulation to oversee the application and usage of cryptocurrencies in the European marketplace. For example, the European Union explained in 2015 that “virtual currency is a digital representation of value, not issued by a central bank, credit institution or e-money institution, which, in some circumstances, can be used as an alternative to money”, subsequently illustrating that cryptocurrencies should be viewed as a form of currency.
Moreover, recent discussions on the upcoming European Union 5th Money Laundering Directive have made specific reference to regulating cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
At the recent G20 summit, this positon was reinforced by 20 of the largest economies who came to the consensus that cryptocurrencies will be regulated but not banned. It was stated that “Cryptocurrencies will be regulated for anti-money laundering and to counter funding terrorism in accordance with the FATF standards. We will also give consideration to other responses needed.”
Individuals like Utterman who believe that cryptocurrencies should be made illegal are largely concerned that it will be used for illegitimate business transactions and may allow for the perpetration of fraudulent activity.
Interestingly, the nature of blockchain technology is such that individuals will still be able to transact regardless of whether their government decides to regulate the platform or not. The impressive security and transaction speed offered by cryptocurrencies means that demand for it is unlikely to fall anytime soon.
Other financial instructions do not follow the same sentiment
Utterman’s position on the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies might be viewed as compelling, being the head of a global hedge fund. Nevertheless, other major financial institutions do not follow the same sentiment. For example, in July 2018, it was reported that global hedge fund Northern Trust were looking to involve their private equity division into blockchain assets. The financial institution, who currently manage in excess of $950 billion worth of client funds, also mentioned that they are looking to facilitate institutional scale custodianship services.
In a further blow to Utterman’s viewpoints, the Securities and Exchange Commission, who regulate the U.S. financial markets, are currently in the process of reviewing an application for the world’s first ever Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF). If the U.S. based regulator approve the application, which has been fronted by the Chicago Board Options Exchange, will provide the cryptocurrency industry with a significant element of legitimacy. As a result, Utterman’s comments regarding an outright ban of the digital currency arena may become somewhat redundant.