By Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi
ZURICH (Reuters) -Cryptocurrency trading increasingly resembles the U.S. stock market of the late 1920s, Switzerland’s top market regulator said on Wednesday, calling for regulators to take more action to protect consumers from abuse in the freewheeling sector.
Governments are trying to work out how to best oversee the $890 billion crypto market, which is currently only covered by patchy regulation.
Regulators and policymakers have long fretted over the risk to consumers from cryptocurrencies, with U.S. securities watchdogs among those to warn about the potential for manipulation of opaque crypto markets.
“There’s much more that can be done,” said Urban Angehrn, CEO, Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
“It would seem to me that a lot of trading in digital assets looks like the U.S. stock market in 1928, where all kinds of abuse, pump and dump, are now in fact frequently common,” Angehrn said at a conference in Zurich.
“Let’s also think about the potential of technology to make it easy to deal with the large amounts of data and to protect consumers from trading on abusive markets,” Angehrn said.
Crypto markets have been in turmoil over the past few weeks after blow-ups at several major companies.
The overall crypto market has slumped to around $900 billion, down from a record $3 trillion in November, with losses mounting after U.S. crypto lender Celsius Network last week froze the accounts of its 1.7 million customers.
Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, fell below $20,000 on June 18 for the first time since December 2020. It has plummeted around 60% this year, coming under pressure as soaring inflation and rising interest rates prompt a flight from stocks and other higher-risk assets.
The troubles at Celsius are likely to increase U.S. regulatory pressure on a sector already on the defensive amid other crises this year.
(Reporting by Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi in Zurich, writing by Tom Wilson in London. Editing by Jane Merriman)