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France Cracks Down on Unregulated Cryptocurrency Futures Trading

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:05 PM
Josiah Wilmoth
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:05 PM

France’s chief financial markets watchdog said Thursday that it will crack down on unregulated cryptocurrency futures and derivatives trading.

In a statement , the Autorite des Marches Financiers (AMF) said that it had observed a variety of online trading platforms launch cryptocurrency-based derivatives such as binary options, contracts for differences (CFDs), and Forex contracts. The agency, which attributed this development to the “recent cryptocurrency boom,” said that it had concluded that cash-settled cryptocurrency contracts qualified as derivatives, making them subject to AMF oversight.

“The AMF concludes that a cash-settled cryptocurrency contract may qualify as a derivative, irrespective of the legal qualification of a cryptocurrency,” the agency said in the statement. “As a result, online platforms which offer cryptocurrency derivatives fall within the scope of MiFID 2 and must therefore comply with the authorisation, conduct of business rules, and the EMIR trade reporting obligation to a trade repository.”

The AMF added that, as regulated products, platforms were barred from advertising certain financial contracts.

Bloomberg reports  that at least two French trading platforms — Plus500 Ltd. and IG Group Holdings Plc. — had reported strong growth in their quarterly earnings reports, which they attributed in part to their cryptocurrency futures and derivatives products.

In the US, regulated exchanges CBOE and CME began listing Bitcoin futures contracts last December, while cryptocurrency derivatives exchange LedgerX began processing orders several months earlier. Most of these products have targeted institutional investors, although CBOE’s contracts have been cheap enough — each contract represents 1 BTC compared to CME’s 5 BTC contracts — to attract interest from retail investors as well.

Bloomberg notes that the AMF’s increased interest in unregulated cryptocurrency futures and derivatives trading comes amid a wider European Union (EU) crackdown on retail-focused derivatives products. EU regulators are reportedly considering banning trading platforms from marketing and selling these products to retail investors, citing concerns about volatility and investor protection.

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