(London) The resounding bankruptcy last year of the cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX strongly shook this highly speculative market, leading to an exodus of capital and other business failures, but the hoped-for regulatory tightening remains incomplete.
On October 3, the trial of the former boss of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, nicknamed “SBF”, begins, accused along with other executives of having used the accounts of clients of the cryptocurrency exchange platform for their purposes. unknowingly, to fuel the speculative operations of Alameda, his investment company.
“Like a collapsing domino game”, the collapse in November of what was until now one of the main players in the sector had at the time had repercussions on several heavyweights in the cryptocurrency ecosystem , like the Genesis broker – now bankrupt – details to AFP Erica Stanford, crypto specialist for the legal firm CMS.
Many projects linked to cryptocurrencies – digital assets based on blockchain technology (“block chain”), a decentralized virtual ledger, the best known of which are Bitcoin or Ethereum – have already exploded in full flight by the pass.
“Many were clearly pyramid frauds”, which harmed legions of investors, and particularly individuals, believes the author of the book Crypto Wars: Faked Deaths, Missing Billions and Industry Disruption, interviewed by AFP.
But for Ms. Stanford, the particularity of the FTX bankruptcy is that it affected a lot of “people who worked in the sector itself”.
In addition, “SBF” had created an image for itself as the “good boy of crypto”, and its fall further damaged the reputation of cryptocurrencies, already highly volatile, risky and deregulated assets.
The exodus of funds was massive. Especially since the FTX collapse occurred at a time when interest rates were skyrocketing in many countries, increasing the cost of money on credit, and making that available for risky assets scarce.
“Capital is scarce in the crypto world these days,” confirms Banafsheh Fathieh, partner at the crypto investment fund Faction, who points out that “cryptocurrency trading volumes are the lowest we have seen in about 4 years.”
After falling to 500 billion dollars last December, trading volumes on the ten main platforms will rise slightly in 2023, to 1000 billion in March, but still far from the 1500 billion in January 2022, according to data from Coingecko, a site which lists more than 13,000 of them across 600 exchanges.
The future is getting even darker for the big fish in the sector, such as number one Binance, targeted by an investigation by the American Department of Justice, particularly for money laundering.
But how do we weed out the “bad actors” in crypto? Several regulatory texts are being developed in the American Congress, but none have yet been put to a vote, in a context of strong division between Republicans and Democrats, which complicates hopes of compromise.
Ahead in the field, the European Union has for its part agreed on a regulatory project (MiCa), which requires platforms to be more transparent and rigorous, and which should come into force next year.
In France, registration as a digital asset service provider (PSAN), defined by the 2019 Pacte law, is already necessary to communicate and promote its services.
The United States “perhaps missed the pivotal moment” that was the bankruptcy of SBF, which could have served as an opportunity to legislate, believes Victor Carvalho, professor of information systems at the University of Miami, in Ohio.
“It hurts the industry not to have proper regulations in place, because we can have agencies like the SEC making decisions that sometimes make no sense, or are contradictory. “, he believes.
For his part, the Wall Street policeman has once again pushed back the deadline for his decision to create an index fund (spot ETF) in bitcoin which would directly follow the price of the cryptocurrency, and would make it possible to invest in the bitcoin without having to buy it directly.