Jun 21 – Cryptocurrency, mortgages and ethics

The value of “cryptos” has been volatile recently, and also its reputation. As they have grown in gross value, countries, tax authorities, central banks, regulators and corporates are all playing catch up to form a view.  The opaque way funds are created and the fact they reside in the ether is a challenge for those who traditionally value tangible assets.  Those with responsibility for the green agenda now see the impact of coin mining on energy consumption as a core issue.

Those concerned with financial crime are becoming increasingly concerned at how such currencies might be used to evade conventional currency and banking controls.  Countries are now expressing concern over illegal traffickers of drugs, children and arms embracing crypto as a means of avoiding detection and passing value.  By investing legally is this aiding the criminals?

Tax authorities have yet to fully decide on whether profits on virtual coins should be taxed as income or a capital gain, or possibly in some jurisdictions exempt.  Central banks are excited by the concept of how the currency is traded, but worried that it could replace their own asset and so take away one of the main tools they have to manage their economy.  Controls over and use of money supply, interest rates and taxation are the cornerstones of any modern economy, but could be swiftly eroded by widespread adoption of crypto.

Some asset managers see it as a necessary investment class now, but its intangibility, volatility and challenges over liquidity in some exchanges must place it at the riskier end of the spectrum.  Finally, as a store to be used as a house deposit or purchase, responsible UK professionals will want to see when the funds went in, where from and when they came out.  Statements will be essential.  They will want to ensure gains are being declared and paid before accepting it in the local currency.  Others will see it as a step too far for them in the current world.

Robert Sinclair
Chief Executive, AMI.