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More Britons take a bet on bitcoin

Tue, 30th Jun 2020 12:44

By Huw Jones

LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - The number of people in Britain
buying cryptoassets like bitcoin and ether has more
than doubled over the past year, but many are still unaware they
have no protection against mis-selling, the Financial Conduct
Authority said on Tuesday.

The FCA said in a research note that 2.6 million consumers
have now bought cryptoassets at one point or another, often as a
deliberate gamble, up from 1.1 million in 2019.

Almost half of holders have never used them, with buyers
overwhelmingly male and over 35 years old.

Many are aware of how volatile bitcoin prices can be, but
around 300,000 wrongly believe they are protected against
mis-selling, the watchdog said.

"Cryptoassets present risks and opportunities for consumers
and we hope these insights will help inform the policy debate in
the UK and internationally as the use of these assets continue
to grow," said Sheldon Mills, the FCA's interim executive
director for strategy and competition.

Globally, bitcoin has a market capitalisation of about $178
billion, followed by ether at $23 billion, the FCA said.

Three-quarters of UK consumers who own cryptocurrencies hold
under 1,000 pounds ($1,227), FCA research showed.

With the individual sums involved still relatively small
compared with other investments, regulators have not rushed to
introduce any clampdown for fear of stifling innovation in
financial services that could bring jobs and growth to the
sector.

The British government said in March that it intends to
consult on measures to bring certain cryptoassets into the scope
of financial promotions regulation.

The FCA held a public consultation last year on banning the
sale of certain cryptoassets derivatives to retail investors and
the watchdog said on Tuesday it will make a follow-up policy
statement later this year.
($1 = 0.8148 pounds)
(Reporting by Huw Jones; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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