(Bloomberg) -- The Central Bank of Ireland is “very concerned” about the risks posed by unbacked cryptocurrencies to retail customers, its governor said.

Such assets offer “no social value whatsoever,” Gabriel Makhlouf told an Irish parliamentary committee on Wednesday, likening them to Ponzi schemes.

People are “essentially gambling” when investing in unbacked crytocurrencies, he said. “When you gamble you can win but most of the time when you gamble you’re actually losing. If people want to gamble we should let them gamble.”

“If you put your money into unbacked crypto you need to be prepared to lose all of it,” he added.

Bitcoin lost more than 60% of its value last year, rendering true an argument policymakers have long made: products like it are much too volatile to be considered currency. With the broader crypto industry in a tailspin after the recent collapse of FTX, calls are getting louder to find better ways to control it.

  • Makhlouf called for a ban of advertising of unbacked cryptocurrencies to young adults if lawmakers can “find a way,” citing an “uncomfortable” level of adverts targeted at them
  • Risks to financial stability are “minimal,” but “guardrails” are needed to protect consumers from risks, he said

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