EU Regulators Warn Crypto Investors Could Lose Everything


Key Takeaways

  • Three EU regulators have issued a joint statement warning against the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies.
  • The European Banking Authority, European Securities and Markets Authority, and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority said that crypto assets are “not suited for most retail consumers as an investment or as a means of payment or exchange.”
  • Criminal activity and scams have become increasingly common in the industry as digital assets have gained mainstream attention.

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The European Union’s securities, banking, and insurance regulators have warned consumers against the risks of investing in crypto.

EU Regulators Say Crypto Investors Risk Going Broke

EU regulators have issued a warning about the risks of investing in cryptocurrencies.

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Three European financial regulators, the European Banking Authority, European Securities and Markets Authority, and European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority issued a joint press statement Thursday warning consumers of the risks of the emergent asset class. 

“Consumers face the very real possibility of losing all their invested money if they buy these assets,” the EU’s three financial watchdogs said. The warning was prompted by the growing investor interest in crypto and the aggressive promotion of cryptocurrencies and related products via social media and influencers. Cryptocurrencies are highly risky, speculative, and “not suited for most retail consumers as an investment or as a means of payment or exchange,” the regulators added.

The warning includes a checklist of the most important risks that the regulators believe investors should consider before investing in crypto. Extreme volatility, misleading information, an absence of consumer protection, fraud, hacks, and market manipulation were cited as the regulators’ top concerns in the statement. 

The regulators’ warning comes as the scale of fraud, theft and misleading advertising in the cryptocurrency market reaches new highs. According to the latest crypto crime report by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, scammers took home a record of $14 billion in cryptocurrencies in 2021. Examples of celebrity and influencer-endorsed pump-and-dump schemes are also plentiful. In January, for instance, a group of investors filed a class-action lawsuit against reality TV star Kim Kardashian and world champion boxer Floyd Mayweather for making “false or misleading statements” and promoting the EthereumMax project, whose token has since plummeted by 97.8%.

Many crypto-native influencers—well known in the crypto scene but less so outside of it— have been caught promoting dubious projects that subsequently vanished without a trace or “pulled the rug” on their investors. Influencers often get paid to give exposure to projects, but some have been caught running paid promotions on their social media channels without posting any disclosure (such behavior violates securities laws in the United States). 

The NFT space has become a particularly fertile hub for scams since the technology exploded in popularity. Many projects have come under fire for charging extortionate sums for NFTs, misleading investors, and failing to deliver on their promises. One of the biggest recent scandals involved the Pixelmon project, which raised $70 million from investors after heavy marketing but was later accused of offering underwhelming artwork. Pixelmon issued an apology following the reveal and the collection became the subject of mockery in the community. 

Related:  Facebook Is Again in Hot Water Over False Crypto Ads

Before deciding to invest in cryptocurrencies, the EU’s regulators prompted consumers to first consider whether they could afford to lose all their invested money, warning that they’re “unlikely to have any rights to protection or compensation if things go wrong.”

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies.

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