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Switzerland Rolls Out New Stablecoin Regulations With Libra in Mind

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September 11, 2019 | 

Darryn Pollock |  0 Comments| 

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While cryptocurrency continues to grow and be adopted across the world, leading to greater regulation, and better regulatory understanding, there are parts of this new and emerging financial space that are also in need of a bit of scrutiny. 

Stablecoins have started emerging thick and fast, and have some attractive features that regulators are more happy to be aligned with. Their lack of volatility and their pegging to assets, notably currencies, makes them an attractive alternative for those still nervous of the cryptocurrency space. 

This has led to a number of countries starting to adopt them - notably China, Iran, and Venezuela - but it has also seen banks and institutions start to roll out their own offerings - such as Facebook and its Libra coin.

To this end, the Swiss, one of the more progressive countries when it comes to the regulation and use of cryptocurrency, has come out with a stablecoin-focused supplement to its existing guidelines for initial coin offerings (ICOs). This supplement also plays strongly with Libra as the company for the coin is registered in Switzerland. 

Nothing new

It has emerged that on offering up this supplement, where Switzerland’s Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) takes note of the steadily proliferating issuance of stablecoins since mid-2018, it has also confirmed that the Geneva-based Libra Association has sought an assessment by FINMA for its Facebook’s stablecoin project under Swiss law. 

The supplement addresses stablecoins, but does not do anything groundbreaking or too much out of the scope of normal views of regulation across cryptocurrency. In a basic outline, the watchdog treats stablecoins as it does other blockchain-based tokens, with a focus “on the economic function and the purpose of a token” and with a “same risks, same rules” approach that aims to be technology-neutral and principle-based, according to the document

The difference comes when it needs to be ascertained what the cryptocurrency in the stablecoin is being linked to - be it a currency, commodity, real estate, or a security. This then brings about questions as to what legal rights are attributed to the holders.

Facebook seeking regulation

Facebook, in its attempts to get the Libra coin off the ground, has actively sought the Seiss regulators out to assess them and their stable coin under their regulatory guidelines. FINMA then notes, that they would require a payment system license on the basis of Switzerland’s Financial Market Infrastructure Act (FMIA). 

More issues that Facebook could run into under the Swiss regulation would come about if they were to have added additional services with Libra that would start to push the offering towards being more Bank-like.

Still, Facebook has a good chance of getting the thumbs up from the regulators in Switzerland as they are more progressive than most, and they are actively trying to keep up with the evolving space.

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