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European regulator: DeFi has both substantial hazards and advantages.

In a recent publication, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) shed light on the intricacies of decentralized finance, or DeFi, and its potential impact on the European Union’s financial landscape. This comprehensive report, unveiled on the 11th of October, delves into the multifaceted nature of DeFi, exploring both its promises and perils.

Spanning over 22 pages, the ESMA’s report acknowledges the alluring prospects DeFi offers, including expanded financial inclusion, innovative financial product development, and heightened speed, security, and cost-efficiency in financial transactions. These aspects have captured the attention of many in the financial world.

Nevertheless, the report doesn’t shy away from addressing the “significant risks” associated with DeFi. The ESMA emphasizes the liquidity risk, stemming from the speculative and volatile nature of numerous crypto assets. Comparing the 30-day volatility of Bitcoin to the Euro Stoxx 50 index, the ESMA found that the cryptocurrencies exhibited, on average, 3.6 and 4.7 times greater volatility than their stock market counterparts.

Moreover, the ESMA questions DeFi’s ability to completely mitigate counterparty risk, despite the theoretical advantages offered by smart contracts and atomicity. The report points out that smart contracts are not immune to errors or vulnerabilities.

Another major concern highlighted in the report is the susceptibility of DeFi to scams and illicit activities due to the absence of Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols. Furthermore, the report underlines the lack of an identifiable responsible party and the absence of a recourse mechanism as a source of risk for DeFi users.

However, the ESMA ultimately concludes that, at present, DeFi and the broader crypto sphere do not pose “meaningful risks” to financial stability. This conclusion is largely attributed to the relative smallness of these markets and their limited interconnectedness with traditional financial systems.

In a parallel effort, the ESMA continues to closely monitor the crypto market, as evidenced by their second consultative paper on the regulation of Markets in Crypto-Assets, released on the 5th of October. In this comprehensive 307-page document, the regulator proposes permitting crypto asset providers to store transaction data in their preferred format, with the ability to convert it into a specified format should regulatory authorities require it. This approach reflects the ESMA’s commitment to fostering transparency and oversight in the ever-evolving world of digital finance.

Crypto products and NFTs are unregulated and can be highly risky. There may be no regulatory recourse for any loss from such transactions. Crypto is not a legal tender and is subject to market risks. Readers are advised to seek expert advice and read offer document(s) along with related important literature on the subject carefully before making any kind of investment whatsoever. Crypto market predictions are speculative and any investment made shall be at the sole cost and risk of the readers.