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Treasury reveals ‘world-first’ proposals to regulate cryptocurrency | Science & Tech News

The Treasury has revealed proposals to regulate cryptocurrency, following widespread calls for action after the spectacular collapse of one of the world’s largest trading exchanges.

Promising a “robust” approach to digital assets consistent with traditional finance, the government says it wants exchanges to have fairer and tighter standards.

Under the plans, crypto platforms would become responsible for defining the demands that a currency must meet before being admitted for trading.

Exchanges will also be held accountable for safely facilitating transactions and keeping customer assets safe.

It comes after the deputy governor of the Bank of England told Sky News that crypto trading is “too dangerous” to remain outside mainstream regulation.

Speaking in light of the sudden bankruptcy of crypto platform FTX, Sir Jon Cunliffe described the market as “incredibly volatile” and said investors needed more protection.

Some 80,000 UK-based customers were impacted by the collapse of the world’s second-largest crypto exchange, with one British investor left with a £1m hole in his finances.

FTX‘s disgraced founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, has since pleaded not guilty to stealing billions of dollars in customer money.

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‘Regulate crypto before systemic problem’

Are the government’s plans sufficient?

The proposals – which Labour said had arrived too far too late – come as the crypto industry seeks to regain the confidence of spooked investors.

Since FTX collapsed, wider market turmoil has seen Bitcoin, the world’s biggest token, fall to a five-month low and major exchange Coinbase cut 20% of its workforce.

Less than a year ago, Rishi Sunak, then chancellor, said he wanted the UK to be a “global crypto asset hub”.

Andrew Griffith, economic secretary to the Treasury, said the government was still committed to enabling crypto, but stressed the need to “protect consumers who are embracing this new technology”.

The plans will first be submitted to a consultation, but the Treasury claims the regulation will be a “world first”, suggesting it should arrive before the EU’s expected crypto legislation in 2024.

In the meantime, the Treasury announced it would be introducing a time-limited exemption to let more crypto asset companies issue promotions following a crackdown on “misleading” adverts.

Firms that are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority for anti-money laundering purposes will be allowed to while the broader regulation is being introduced.

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What is the main aim of cryptocurrency?

‘We’ve been waiting a long time’

Crypto fraud expert Louise Abbott, a partner at Keystone Law, welcomed the proposals.

She told Sky News that the lack of regulation in crypto made it “hugely attractive to fraudsters”.

“We have been waiting in this industry for a long time,” she said.

“I deal with fraud and have seen a dramatic increase in crypto scams and fraud in the past 10 years. Last year, I was getting daily enquiries from potential victims who have been defrauded through a crypto scam.”

Ms Abbot hopes the regulation could be in place as soon as the summer, adding that it was in the interests of both exchanges and investors for greater oversight of the market.

Major industry players including Binance chief Changpeng Zhao, who saw his platform banned in the UK in 2021, and Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong have previously welcomed the prospect of more regulation.

“Unless we become a safer environment, investors will not invest in the way we have seen,” Ms Abbot added.

Varun Paul, former head of fintech at the Bank of England, now of crypto infrastructure provider Fireblocks, also described the plans as a “positive step”.

He told Sky News that industry turmoil meant there was a need for “clear rules”, and expressed hope that the UK’s regulation would do the job while still encouraging innovation.

World-first birth for mother with rare disability that means she regularly breaks bones | UK News

A mother with a condition so rare that just 50 people worldwide have it has given birth in what it believed to be a world-first.

Hira Ahmad, from Wandsworth in London, has Bruck syndrome, which means she has brittle bones, restricted growth and uses a wheelchair.

The 28-year-old, who grew up breaking bones so regularly, she was taken to a hospital every three months, told the PA news agency she wanted to share her story to inspire other mothers with physical disabilities.

She said: “People doubt on you… they will say ‘you won’t be able to have a baby, it’ll be very difficult for you’.

“But I just want to put out there that no matter what, don’t lose your hope.

“I want my baby girl to go out there and explain to people that my mum is someone who had Bruck Syndrome and is a wheelchair user full time, she’s got brittle bones, but she still managed to deliver me in the safest way.

“I want her to look up to me and have that inspiration from her mother.”

Mrs Ahmad, an insurance officer at Wandsworth Council, had foetal testing to check if her daughter Dua would also have brittle bone disease.

She said when doctors told her the baby would not inherit the condition “I had tears of happiness in my eyes”.

 Hira Ahmad with her daughter Dua. Mrs Ahmad

Doctors ran a simulated theatre trial before the birth to investigate how Mrs Ahmad should position herself during the birth to avoid breaking any bones.

Due to previous surgery for scoliosis, which involved a metal rod being used to straighten her spine to alleviate pressure on her heart, she gave birth via C-section under general anaesthetic.

Mrs Ahmed went into labour unexpectedly early at 36 weeks, but after being rushed to hospital the birth was a success and Dua was born without complications at St George’s Hospital in London on 29 January 2022.

Dua Ahmad
Don’t lose hope, says disabled mother after world-first birth

Caring for a newborn had been tough, she said.

“In the beginning it was very difficult… holding a tiny baby and pushing yourself in a wheelchair from one room to the other,” she said.

“I couldn’t do it on my own of course… I have to have my husband’s help or my mum’s help always around me for me to be able to cater to her needs.”

Ather Amin and Hira Ahmad with their daughter Dua
Image:
Ather Amin and Hira Ahmad with their daughter Dua

Mrs Ahmad said she always had “hope” she would be able to have a child after a doctor told her aged 12 she would be able to get pregnant, but she knew it would be difficult.

She said she wants to have more children.

“Maybe when Dua is at an age where we can manage her, maybe later on in life,” she said.

“I really want to, but I’ll have to look at my health at that time and make the decision later on.”