Explainer: EU rulebook for 'Wild West' crypto market

STORY: The European Union has reached a provisional deal on rules to regulate the crypto market.

The landmark law, known as Markets in Crypto-Assets, is the world’s first set of comprehensive rules to regulate a market that has been described as the “Wild West.”

{TITLE} What are the new rules?

Under the new rules, crypto firms that want to issue and sell digital tokens in an EU state will now have to obtain a license from a national regulator.

The license will allow operators to serve the whole 27-country bloc from one base,

and be liable for losing cryptoassets from consumers’ digital wallets.

Currently, firms have to show an EU national regulator they have adequate controls to stop money laundering - but can only operate within that country.

{TITLE} How will the rules work?

Stablecoins are crypto pegged to traditional currencies or commodities that aims to keep a steady value.

The EU rules will give holders of stablecoins the right to claim their money back free of charge.

Issuers will have to hold minimum levels of liquidity and will be overseen by the EU’s European Banking Authority.

Crypto firms will also have to have a registered office in the bloc to issue stablecoins, and coins based on non-European currencies will be constrained to preserve “monetary sovereignty.”

Industry officials say it will become harder to make money under these rules.

As for NFTs - or non-fungible tokens - it’s more complicated.

Lawmakers wanted NFTs under the new rules, but EU states opposed it.

That led to a compromise where NFTs are not included in the rulebook, but if they become fungible - i.e. mutually replaceable - regulators can force them to comply with crypto rules.

The European Commission will assess within 18 months whether standalone rules for NFTs are needed.

{TITLE} Crypto and climate change

Bitcoin's energy use is a big worry for lawmakers.

Crypto firms will have to disclose their impact on the environment and climate change, using standards that the EU securities and markets watchdog will draft.

The rulebook still needs formal rubber-stamping by EU states and the European Parliament before it comes into effect,

which is likely to be in 2023 at the earliest.

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