Bitcoin and ether are not securities, Belgian financial regulator says

Quick Take

  • Belgium’s regulator stated that crypto assets like bitcoin and ether do not fall under regulations for securities, since they have no issuer.
  • Crypto assets may still be subject to other national regulations for crypto asset service providers.
  • The national regulator will adjust its provisions according to upcoming, harmonized EU laws on crypto assets.

Belgium’s financial regulator clarified that crypto assets like bitcoin and ether should not fall under regulation for securities as they have "no issuer."

Crypto assets without an issuer — for example those "created by a computer code” — should be exempt from securities regulation, the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority said in a statement on Thursday. It named bitcoin and ether as examples.

However, the FSMA added that other regulations may apply if crypto assets have a “payment or exchange function.” As coins such as bitcoin and ether are used for payments, the FSMA suggests they may fall under national rules for virtual asset service providers, which largely cover anti-money laundering provisions.

Crypto assets with payment functions are also not exempt from regulations on marketing of financial products to retail clients.

The FSMA claims that their outline is technology-neutral, stating that “the qualification as security, financial instrument or investment instrument does not depend on the technology that is being used.”

The European Union is expected to pass a final vote on the Markets in Crypto Assets regulation, which will streamline laws on crypto assets and their service providers across the member states. The FSMA acknowledged that its recommendations may alter based on MiCA.

In the U.S., crypto assets are largely considered securities, according to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler. Discussions surrounding crypto, and especially ether, doubling as securities came to the foreground after the Ethereum Merge.

The SEC has even filed a lawsuit against crypto payment system Ripple for allegedly operating unregistered securities sales.


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