UK authorities should regulate cryptocurrency trading as a form of gambling rather than a financial service, parliament’s Treasury committee has said after a fresh inquiry into the industry. The government must avoid wasting more taxpayer funds promoting tech innovations such as digital tokens, without demonstrating the clear benefits to the public, MPs said in a report published on Wednesday. Like gambling, cryptocurrency trading and investing can be addictive, MPs concluded. And while the underlying blockchain technology could benefit the wider financial services industry, the process of betting on the volatile price of unbacked assets such as bitcoin could lead consumers to lose life-changing sums of cash. “Effective regulation is clearly needed to protect consumers from harm, as well as to support productive innovation in the UK’s financial services industry,” the Conservative MP and Treasury committee chair, Harriett Baldwin, said. “However, with no intrinsic value, huge price volatility and no discernible social good, consumer trading of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin more closely resembles gambling than a financial service, and should be regulated as such. “By betting on these unbacked ‘tokens’, consumers should be aware that all their money could be lost.”
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