Canadian regulators are moving to create a set of rules for crypto trading platforms such as Quadriga Fintech Solutions Corp., a digital exchange that lost access to $260 million of investor assets after the death of its founder.
The Canadian Securities Administrators, an umbrella organization of provincial and territorial regulators, is considering a tailored framework “to address the novel features and risks” of platforms that trade crypto assets. These include a potential lack of investor safeguards, conflicts of interest, a dearth of price transparency and inadequate security controls, it said.
Currently, some platforms are subject to securities regulation depending on what crypto assets they trade and how they’re operated, but others are unregulated, said Pat Chaukos, deputy director of the Ontario Securities Commission’s LaunchPad, which works with fintech startups.
“This consultation is really directly responsive to what we’ve heard from these platforms,” Chaukos said in a phone interview. “They’ve told us that a regulatory framework is welcome because they’re trying to build consumer confidence and expand their businesses across Canada and in some cases globally.”
Chaukos wouldn’t comment on whether the Quadriga situation had any bearing on the review. The firm has been unable to access the assets of 115,000 customers since founder Gerald Cotten died in India in December, and has been under court-approved creditor protection since Feb. 5.
Crypto assets with a value of almost $1 billion were stolen in 2018 from platforms around the world, the CSA said in its consultation paper published Thursday. “Global incidents point to crypto assets having heightened risks related to loss and theft as compared to other assets,” it said.
The CSA made several proposals about how a new regulatory framework for crypto trading platforms should look, including requiring registration as an investment dealer; independent audits of internal controls; prohibiting dark trading and short selling; disclosing potential conflicts of interest; and requiring insurance to protect investors’ assets.
Regulators are also seeking input on whether there are any global approaches that Canada should look at, Chaukos said. Stakeholders have until May 15 to provide feedback on the proposals.
In the U.S., the Securities and Exchange Commission has said anyone trading securities within its jurisdiction must comply with existing guidelines.