Chainalysis Shares Insights on MiCA’s Stablecoin Regime and Its Remaining Challenges

Chainalysis has been sharing detailed insights on issues related to MiCA’s Stablecoin Regime and its remaining challenges.

Despite the extensive work by the EBA and ESMA, in close cooperation with national regulators, Chainalysis points out that MiCA still leaves “some room for interpretation and uncertainty, alongside current practical challenges.”

Chainalysis also mentioned in a blog post that “as the MiCA regime for stablecoins comes into force,” there are relevant points to be considered.

National implementation laws outstanding

Although MiCA is a regulation which “means it is directly applicable to countries and to firms, it still requires national laws to determine how it will be implemented and enforced at the national level.”

Chainalysis added that for the most part, MiCA compliance is “supervised and enforced by EU national authorities.”

These implementation laws establish who the “competent national authority” is for MiCA within each individual country, and whether there is “a transitional period for CASP activities (e.g. to transition from an existing registration or licensing regime, to the MiCA regime).”

Chainalysis further noted that without these laws, national authorities “do not have a mandate over MiCA, therefore cannot even receive MiCA applications.”

Currently, around half of the EU member states reportedly “have not yet passed the necessary implementation laws.”

Uncertainty about how MiCA will be practically understood and implemented

Covering all of the EU, MiCA has significant influence “as one of the world’s first comprehensive regulatory regimes for crypto asset issuers and service providers.”

Chainalysis also mentioned that it “draws from traditional market regulation and the unique risk profiles of crypto asset products and services existent at that time.”

As with any new regulatory framework, particularly in “a sector previously subject to only more limited requirements in most cases, there remains uncertainty about how these theoretical rules will be practically understood and implemented by both firms and regulators (who might also consider national gold-plating of MiCA rules).”

Chainalysis added that to address this, the EBA and ESMA have “provided detailed rules and guidance to ensure a consistent approach across the EU.”

However, not every issue can always “be covered in advance, especially in such an evolving and dynamic market.”

For example, Chainalysis noted that “the scope of MiCA’s stablecoin regime requires issuers (or other persons) publicly offering or seeking admission to trading in the EU to have a MiCA license.”

According to Chainalysis’ blog post, There is some “uncertainty around the opportunities for trading of non-MiCA authorized stablecoins post-30 June for future CASPs, particularly in light of MiCA’s CASP provisions only taking effect on 30 December 2024.”

While some firms have announced upcoming changes on their platforms before June 30, the approaches across Europe “may vary significantly in practice.”

Chainalysis further noted that MiCA’s effectiveness, and its ultimate success, “will depend on a transparent and consistent implementation by national regulators across the EU and a clear understanding of regulatory expectations by firms.”

Implications of EMTs as e-money and crypto assets

The dual classification of EMTs as “both crypto assets and funds under MiCA can cause confusion for CASPs.”

How EMTs are treated matters less for issuers (who must be e-money institutions or credit institutions in any case) but it could “significantly impact CASPs. Given EMTs are considered e-money (and therefore funds), transactions which involve EMTs could be classified as regulated payment services, requiring CASPs to obtain an additional license (in addition to their MiCA license) under the EU’s payment services rules (PSD2).”

However, if EMTs are regarded solely “as crypto assets (in a transactional context), a MiCA license would suffice.”

It’s important to note that legal definitions, “including for “crypto-assets” are context-specific and dependent on the relevant EU legislation.”

For example, Chainalysis explained that “under the EU’s Transfer of Funds Regulation (FTR), EMTs are treated purely as crypto assets, while under the EU’s recently updated sanctions regime, they are to be classified as funds.”

Chaianlysis added that this ambiguity “underscores the need for clear guidelines in MiCA or the (upcoming revision of) European payments regulation to ensure that all firms understand their regulatory obligations.”

This issue also highlights the “broader challenge of distinguishing between different types of crypto assets.”

As stated in the update from Chainlysis, this is “reminiscent of the ongoing discussions around MiCA “crypto-assets” versus financial instruments under the EU’s traditional financial market, MiFID regulations. ESMA proposed a ‘cautious’ approach here, essentially classifying ambiguous/hybrid tokens as financial instruments, subjecting them to more stringent regulations.”

This stance aims to ensure comprehensive “oversight and consumer protection.”

The future of stablecoin regulation

Stablecoins are today the largest “single use case for crypto assets and MiCA’s stablecoin regime signifies a pivotal moment for the regulation of crypto assets in Europe, setting a precedent for global regulatory standards.”

Chainalysis also stated that the detailed prudential and conduct requirements, “alongside stringent governance and redemption rules, reflect the EU’s commitment to establishing a rigorous and comprehensive regulatory environment for stablecoins.”

However, the journey towards “full regulatory clarity and seamless implementation is fraught with remaining challenges.”

The pending national implementation laws “across EU member states, the slightly nebulous scope of the stablecoin regime with regards to future CASPs and the dual classification of EMTs as both funds and crypto assets are likely to create significant uncertainties from June 30th onwards.”

Ongoing efforts by the EBA and ESMA to refine standards and guidelines are “expected to provide much-needed clarity and ensure that all stakeholders can navigate the new regulatory landscape effectively, fostering a more robust and secure crypto asset market.”

The blockchain analytics firm concluded that if you are overwhelmed by new compliance requirements for CASPs or stablecoin issuers, then Chainalysis can help.

Their blockchain analytics solutions help to “streamline compliance with regulations and empower you to make data-driven business decisions.”

If you are struggling with National Risk Assessments or need market insights, then Chainalysis may assist with the NRA process and provide Market Intelligence reports.

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