Three months after global banking regulators proposed strict new rules for traditional financial institutions seeking bitcoin exposure, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, and other banking giants opposed what would require them to set aside one dollar in capital for each dollar of BTC they own.
The strict rules were proposed in June by the Basel Committee for Banking Supervision, a group of regulators from the world’s most prominent financial centers. However, the Global Financial Markets Association, a forum for banks that includes JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank, published together with five other industry associations a letter on Tuesday that pushed against the new regulation, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“We find the proposals in the consultation to be so overly conservative and simplistic that they, in effect, would preclude bank involvement in crypto asset markets,” the associations wrote in the letter to the Basel Committee, according to the report.
The committee’s proposed regulations indeed demonstrated an attempt of regulators to stop or at least disincentivize banking institutions from getting bitcoin exposure. While bank exposures to bitcoin are currently limited, the Swiss-based committee said in June, “their continued growth could increase risks to global financial stability if capital requirements are not introduced,” Reuters reported.
The proposal came amid strong pushback from developing countries against Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Central banks of major economies worldwide have been outspokenly negative about such assets while designing their own.
European Central Bank (ECB) chief Christine Lagarde recently came into the spotlight for saying that bitcoin and “cryptos are not currencies, full stop.” The head of the ECB later praised her own central bank digital currency (CBDC) in an attempt to drive investors away from Bitcoin and into her soon-to-be-developed digitized euro.
The markets are not buying such narratives, however. Besides retail investors, institutional investors, corporations, and banks have also demonstrated an increased appetite for bitcoin exposure in the past year. As global central banks’ monetary policies erode the purchasing power of those holding their currencies, investors gravitate towards harder assets.
In their latest rebuttal, the biggest banks in the U.S. and Europe have pushed back against increased regulatory scrutiny, which, in their view, would backlash. The Basel Committee, which includes the Federal Reserve, the ECB, and other major central banks, technically doesn’t enforce rules itself but sets minimum standards by which regulators worldwide are expected to abide.
“The committee said in June that banks should apply a 1,250% risk weight to bitcoin, which it said is ‘similar in effect to the deduction of the asset from capital,’” according to the WSJ report. “If a bank holds $100 of bitcoin exposure, it would give rise to risk-weighted assets of $1,250, which when multiplied by the minimum capital requirement of 8% results in setting aside at least $100.”
In response, the letter signed by the Financial Services Forum, the Futures Industry Association, the Institute of International Finance, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, the Chamber of Digital Commerce, and the Global Financial Markets Association said that such a high-risk weight wasn’t necessary for bitcoin.