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Is 2023 the year for Bitcoin regulation?


In many ways, Bitcoin and crypto in general are metaphorically like a diamond. Those who look at them see something different depending on the angle that they are coming from. That has been simultaneously a strength and a weakness for crypto, as it’s easy to be cynical about it when there is so much vagueness around. That cynicism is, at least occasionally, justified. At the same time, the versatility of Bitcoin and its ability to bend to different uses are major selling points for people who find fiat currencies to be bloated and a plaything for the powerful.

For years, the talk of regulating cryptocurrencies has echoed both as a promise and a threat, with even Bitcoin owners divided on whether regulation would be a good thing. As a sizeable chunk of the Western world struggles with the cost of living, it is easy to see how beginning to regulate coins might be attractive to governments that are running out of economic levers to pull. Could this be the year that efforts are made in earnest to regulate and manage Bitcoin at a governmental level, and if so, what can we expect to see?

USA: Disputes over how to legislate, consensus that it should happen

While anyone who invests does so in the knowledge that the value of their investments can go down as well as up, there isn’t a lot of solid ground under the argument that collapses like FTX are just another hazard. When people invest in crypto assets and lose everything, it does negatively affect perceptions of crypto which no number of success stories over Bitcoin betting at can really counterbalance. It’s more accepted than ever that some legislation is going to be necessary. The dividing line now falls between those who feel that Congress should take the wheel on it, or leave it to the SEC and CFTC to figure it out as experts.

UK: A demand to see equal standards on all fronts

While economic policy in the UK is set by the government through the Treasury, the Bank of England has an element of control and a potent advisory role when it comes to how assets are approached from a legal standpoint. So to hear the deputy governor of the central bank state that the government should bring crypto coins within a regulatory framework is interesting. It indicates that there is growing consensus that Bitcoin will be among the assets coming within a legislative framework in the near future.

With former Treasury secretary and Chancellor Rishi Sunak now in the position of Prime Minister, Britain is tacking to a more mainstream economic policy than that favoured by short-lived predecessor Liz Truss. So movement may come sooner rather than later.

Overall: When one moves, others will

Each nation makes its own laws and its own moves, and while few countries will go as far as China and ban all crypto trading, we are likely to see one country move, then another, and for momentum to build until more countries are regulating crypto than not. In that regard, it is best to keep an eye on how the US government approaches the issue this year, as that is likely to drive how other countries follow.

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