By Francesco Canepa
BUENOS AIRES, March 19 (Reuters) - The world's financial
leaders gathering in Argentina on Monday are likely to stop
short of any specific action aimed at regulating
cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, amid discord over the
approach, sources at the summit told Reuters.
Wild swings in the price of Bitcoin, the best known of a
myriad of digital currencies issued by private companies, cyber
heists involving such assets, and fears they may be used for
crime have raised calls for concerted actions by global
Finance ministers and central bankers from the world's 20
largest economies meeting in Buenos Aires will be told on
Tuesday that such "crypto assets" do not threaten financial
stability but can serve to launder money or finance terrorism
and hurt consumers who buy them.
However, no action is expected to follow at the summit as
policymakers have yet to agree on a common strategy to tackle
the issue and some countries, including the United States, are
wary of new regulation after a decade of rule-making in the wake
of the financial crisis of 2008-2009, the sources said.
This pushes back the prospect of a global rule book on the
matter, something that some regulators say is needed to tackle a
phenomenon that transcends borders.
"It's unlikely that the G20 will ask for new regulation,"
one of the sources said.
A communique summarising the thinking of summit participants
was expected to be light on substance, merely promising
vigilance and further study, the sources said.
This is in line with a recommendation by Mark Carney, the
chair of the standard-setting body, the Financial Stability
Board, who in his usual letter to summit participants called for
"further international coordination" and "enhanced monitoring",
reflecting division among regulators.
Some countries, such as France, have proposed taking
specific steps, such as creating the legal status of "crypto
assets service providers" as a first step for regulating the
Others reject the notion that such tokens should be treated
as financial assets at all and fear that regulating them would
give them a degree of legitimacy.
"They'd put a big sign on their website saying that they're
regulated and therefore sanctioned by the authorities," another
This may leave the onus on national regulators to act,
opening potential opportunities for providers of crypto
currencies to game the rules by moving their operations to other
"Unless G20 countries get it right, we may give the
opportunity to other countries to fill that space," said Mercina
Tillemann-Dick of industry group the Global Blockchain Business
Council, speaking at a separate event in Buenos Aires.
(Additional reporting by David Lawder and Leika Kihara; editing
by Clive McKeef)
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