EU Investment Firms Should Clearly State Crypto Is Unregulated, Watchdog Says

Companies that market crypto alongside traditional securities might mislead consumers about access to fair advice and compensation, the European Securities and Markets Authority worries.

AccessTimeIconMay 26, 2023 at 8:47 a.m. UTC

Investment firms in the European Union that offer crypto alongside more traditional products could be misleading their consumers into a false sense of security, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) said in a Thursday statement.

The EU agency said it's worried that firms may use a seal of regulatory approval they have to offer traditional finance (TradFi) stocks or funds to make customers believe they’ll have access to sound financial advice or compensation schemes in the event of crypto mishaps.

EU rules known as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) ensure investment intermediaries promote only appropriate financial products to clients – but don’t always apply to more exotic investment opportunities like gold, real estate or non-transferable loans.

The EU’s Markets in Crypto Assets regulation (MiCA) is set to bring MiFID-style rules to the sector, but the regime will only take effect in around 18 months. In the meantime, ESMA, a Paris-based agency that groups and coordinates national regulators, is worried some companies are encouraging and exploiting the ambiguity.

“ESMA recommends that investment firms take all necessary measures to ensure that clients are fully aware of the regulatory status of the product/service they are receiving and clearly disclose to clients when regulatory protections do not apply,” ESMA said, adding that regulatory approval shouldn't be used as a promotional tool.

ESMA has previously warned people crypto can be risky, while an October paper highlighted novel threats such as hacks and consensus manipulation. The agency is also set to consult shortly on detailed secondary laws that will put MiCA into effect.

Edited by Sandali Handagama.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Jack Schickler

Jack Schickler was a CoinDesk reporter focused on crypto regulations, based in Brussels, Belgium. He doesn’t own any crypto.

Read more about