A passageway near the Bank of England (BOE) in the City of London, U.K., on Thursday, March 18, 2021.
Hollie Adams | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The Bank of England‘s deputy governor for financial stability, Jon Cunliffe, has warned that cryptocurrencies could spark a global financial crisis unless tough regulations are introduced.
In a speech Wednesday, Cunliffe likened the rate of growth of the cryptoasset market, from $16 billion five years ago to $2.3 trillion today, to the $1.2 trillion subprime mortgage market in 2008.
“When something in the financial system is growing very fast, and growing in largely unregulated space, financial stability authorities have to sit up and take notice,” he said.
Cunliffe acknowledged that governments and regulators must be careful not to overreact or classify new approaches as “dangerous” simply because they are different, and also noted that crypto technologies offer a prospect of “radical improvements” in financial services.
However, he contended that although financial stability risks remain limited for now, the current applications of cryptoassets pose a financial stability concern since the majority “have no intrinsic value and are vulnerable to major price corrections.”
Bitcoin and ethereum, the two largest cryptocurrencies, plunged more than 30% in value earlier this year before recovering, and have proven extremely volatile since their creation. Prices are susceptible to a variety of external triggers, from comments by Tesla CEO Elon Musk to regulatory crackdowns by the Chinese government.