Global financial regulators are beginning to warn the public against the risks of investing in a market that many feel is in a speculative bubble, with Singapore central bank on Tuesday urging “extreme caution” about buying cryptocurrencies.
The staggering growth of bitcoin and other decentralised digital currencies this year – with the market swelling from around $17 billion at the start of January to well over $600 billion now – has led to increasing concerns over what the fallout could be if the bubble were to suddenly burst.
There have also been worries that regulators have not been doing enough to protect consumers. Many, though, say investors must take responsibility and must not expect protection if they lose money because of the difficulties of regulating an opaque, complex market that has no centralised authority.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in an official statement on Tuesday it is “concerned that members of the public may be attracted to invest in cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, due to the recent escalation in their prices”.
“MAS considers the recent surge in the prices of cryptocurrencies to be driven by speculation,” the central bank said in a statement. “The risk of a sharp reduction in prices is high. Investors in cryptocurrencies should be aware that they run the risk of losing all their capital.”
The city-state’s central bank added that there is no regulatory safeguard for investments in cryptocurrencies and that it does not regulate them either.
It urged the public to act with “extreme caution” and to understand the “significant risks” they take on if they invest in virtual currencies.