Jon Cunliffe: Is 'crypto' a financial stability risk?

Speech by Sir Jon Cunliffe, Deputy Governor for Financial Stability of the Bank of England, at SIBOS, virtual, 13 October 2021.

Central bank speech  | 
04 November 2021

I want to talk today about whether the world of 'crypto finance' poses risks to financial stability.

Cryptoassets have grown by roughly 200% in 2021, from just under $800 billion to $2.3 trillion today. They have grown from just $16 billion 5 years ago. $2.3 trillion of course needs to be seen in the context of the $250 trillion global financial system. But as the financial crisis showed us, you don't have to account for a large proportion of the financial sector to trigger financial stability problems – sub-prime was valued at around $1.2 trillion in 2008.

When something in the financial system is growing very fast, and growing in largely unregulated space, financial stability authorities have to sit up and take notice. They have to think very carefully about what could happen and whether they, or other regulatory authorities, need to act.

At the same time, they need to be careful not to over-react – particularly when faced with the unfamiliar. We should not classify new approaches as 'dangerous' simply because they are different. Innovation, technology and new players can tackle longstanding frictions and inefficiencies and reduce barriers to entry. Throughout history, they have been key to driving improvement and to increasing resilience in financial services.