The U.K. is set to ban the sale of cryptocurrency derivatives and exchange-traded notes to retail users starting in January.

The decision today from the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority came following an investigation into cryptocurrencies that was announced in March 2018. The report, published in July 2018 and then later updated that October, first proposed a possible ban after further study. Fast forward a year to October 2019, and the U.K. government said it was up to the FCA to make the call — which it now has.

“The FCA considers these products to be ill-suited for retail consumers due to the harm they pose,” the authority said in a statement. Saying the products cannot be reliably valued by retail consumers, the FCA cited issues with the inherent nature of the underlying asset — that is, cryptocurrency — meaning the derivatives have “no reliable basis for valuation.”

The FCA also said other concerns include extreme volatility in cryptoasset price movements and a prevalence of market abuse and financial crime in the secondary market. It also cited “inadequate understanding of cryptoassets by retail consumers” and a “lack of legitimate investment need for retail consumers to invest in these products.”

The decision by the U.K. is the polar opposite of the U.S., where crypto derivatives, particularly around bitcoin, have gained official approval. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission first granted a license to a company offering bitcoin options trading in July 2017, with various others gaining approval and launching since then.

Although bitcoin exchange-traded funds and similar derivative products have had mixed success in terms of investor interest, the attitude of U.S. authorities, is to let people decide what they want to invest in, with oversight. By comparison, U.K. authorities have deemed the investments too risky and also said there’s little demand for the products without letting the market make that decision.

The ban, which covers any derivatives, including contracts for differences, options and futures, goes into effect starting Jan. 6.

Image: Pixabay

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