MiCA: Responding to the crypto market’s call
It is threatening to have one of the biggest assets in the world be left unregulated. Having said that, it is true that any amount of regulation would label cryptocurrencies under the "centralized" territory, and it can be extremely difficult for the entire space to agree on how much centralization is acceptable to maintain crypto's decentralized nature. Amid this conundrum, the European Commission proposed the European MiCA (Markets in crypto assets) in 2020. In April 2023, the European Parliament adopted European MiCA regulation. Let’s go into further detail.
What is MiCA (Markets in Crypto Assets)?
To understand MiCA, we must first distinguish between some of the asset classes within the crypto spectrum. MiCA defines a crypto asset as a digital portrayal of value or "rights" that can be traded using DLT (Distributive Ledger Technology). MiCA regulation also differentiates between conventional cryptocurrency and derived "tokens".
MiCA crypto, as the name suggests, is a name given to categorize the markets within the crypto space. This distinction is necessary as it helps regulatory bodies understand what sort of regulations suit what kind of asset classes. The European MiCA regulation is an attempt to jumpstart the initiative of regulating a high-demand asset class to bring more of it under the umbrella of control and scrutiny.
Although the MiCA crypto regulation is only a step towards regulating a massively valued industry, the European Commission thinks it will serve as a stepping stone towards greater and better-directed regulation in the future. The European Commission believes so because the European MiCA Regulation is the first regulatory body of its kind.
Even though the European Union has always believed in the utility of crypto assets, it was sceptical of the legal frameworks in and around the technology. The rampant security failures that kept popping up within crypto only reinforced the EU's stance on crypto. To understand the potential impact of the MiCA regulation, read up on our site.
The European MiCA Regulation provides the bedrock upon which a crypto ecosystem can be built, with sustainability and scrutiny in mind. This regulation could effectively allow the industry to grow at the rate at which enthusiasts have always wished while at the same time ensuring that there are safeguards in place. Countries like Japan are following suit in the regulatory space.
How does MiCA crypto regulation work?
The MiCA regulation extends to three major crypto asset classes: 1) Asset-Referenced Tokens (ARTs), 2) Electronic Money Tokens (EMTs), and 3) Crypto Assets that are neither ARTs nor EMTs.
ARTs are crypto assets backed by legal tender or a combination of real assets. These can be fiat currencies, the gold standard, or commodities. This domain pretty much includes almost all assets that are not EMTs. As a result, these crypto assets are relatively more secure and stable, and one could argue that they are susceptible to a degree of centralization.
Conversely, EMTs may also be backed by legal tender, but at most, for one fiat currency only. This is the biggest difference between ARTs and EMTs. ARTs diversify risk by depending on a basket of commodities/assets, whereas EMTs rely on single asset classes, behaving more like electronic tokens.
Lastly, the MiCA regulation also extends to utility crypto tokens. These include all derived tokens for Metaverses, blockchains, etc., with their own local exchange tokens. These differ from the electronic security tokens, as is also reflected by the fact that they do not come under the securities' framework in most countries.
It is essential to note that the MiCA regulation does not provide for NFTs or other DeFi elements. This is mainly because these DeFi assets, by nature, are decentralized and go through their own regulatory protocols. Passing these assets through a centralized regulatory framework would pretty much take away their main point of differentiation.
The European MiCA crypto regulation distinguishes between crypto asset Issuers and [crypto Asset Service Providers](https://www.esma.europa.eu/qa-topics/crypto-asset-service-provider-casp#:~:text=Crypto-Asset%20Service%20Provider%20(CASP,European%20Securities%20and%20Markets%20Authority&text=Is%20a%20DLT%20MI%20operator,without%20an%20additional%20MiCA%20licence%3F) (CASPs). The MiCA crypto regulation would have considerable authority and oversight over these two major stakeholders within the forces in crypto-asset markets. Issuers must provide authentic, transparent, and continuous details of the products they are dealing in. Service Providers need to certify their merit, undergo registration processes, and even implement anti-money laundering protocols. Only after these providers have ascertained the MiCA regulation of their merit would they be allowed to operate under the European MiCA framework. The MiCA framework would also have complete control over demanding a transparent paper/money trail whenever they see fit.
The MiCA crypto regulation would also oversee the environmental footprint of issuers and service providers under its umbrella. This will help crypto regain the goodwill lost due to unsustainably high-power consumption mining routines.
Since the European MiCA regulation is the first of its kind, it has to fulfil a cross-border responsibility of trust and cooperation with other countries looking to build similar frameworks around crypto. This first-mover aspect will offer the MiCA regulation a solid reputation and could help establish it as the focal point of global crypto regulation.
Although MiCA crypto regulation seems to be building toward a product offering that the larger market has been demanding for some time now, it would be interesting to see how crypto enthusiasts worldwide respond to this kind of regulatory oversight. Would they welcome this whiff of centralization in their decentralized product, or will they lash out and reject the muddying of their founding principles?
Author: Osama Shahid
Osama Shahid is an experienced writer and editor, mainly writing about gaming and crypto. In his free time, he loves to game, playing FIFA 23 and Rocket League.