Crypto’s European win is just the beginning of a global regulatory fight

The good news is that Europe didn’t ban bitcoin. The bad news is that tougher fights across multiple governmental battlefields lie ahead.

Dr Stefan Berger, Member of the European Parliament

European Parliament member Stefan Berger called MiCA “pioneering” in its establishment of “reliable supervisory structures.”

Photo: Stefan Berger

Crypto won a significant victory in Europe on Monday. The European Parliament voted to advance a regulatory proposal without a controversial provision that would ban proof-of-work-based cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

But the debate in Europe is far from over. And it highlights a major challenge for the industry: The battle over how crypto should be regulated is playing out in different ways in major geographies.

The EU’s approach on crypto regulation is slow but steady. The proposed regulatory framework in the Markets in Crypto Assets bill could set the stage for the digital asset industry on an international level if adopted into law.

  • First introduced in 2020, the the Markets in Crypto Assets proposal went through a number of revisions and delays due to controversial language requiring environmental sustainability standards for proof-of-work-based cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and the initial version of ether. While some EU leaders have called for a proof-of-work ban since November, the EU vote ultimately excluded the language.
  • “Many countries around the world will now take a close look at MiCA," Stefan Berger, the European Parliament member spearheading the legislation, said in a press release. He called it “pioneering” in its establishment of “reliable supervisory structures” — something crypto companies in the U.S. have called for.
  • While many in the crypto industry saw Monday’s vote as a win, the industry is set to see more legislation proposed to combat crypto’s negative environmental impact, in line with European Green Deal goals.
  • The European Commission will present a proposal to amend the MiCA bill to include language for “the EU sustainable finance taxonomy [of] any crypto asset mining activities that contribute substantially to climate-change mitigation and adaptation” by January 2025.

The U.K., meanwhile, is cracking down on crypto, with an emphasis on stablecoins. The U.K., which has forged a separate regulatory path since Brexit, is working through getting the industry properly licensed and registered.

  • The Financial Conduct Authority announced this month that it had 50 live investigations into unauthorized crypto firms after opening over 300 cases related to unregistered crypto businesses.
  • The Treasury has also revealed plans to specifically regulate stablecoins, as they were deemed an immediate risk to traditional payment methods.
  • But while it’s forging its own path on enforcement, Britain is expected to be “largely consistent” with the EU’s approach to crypto regulation, said ComplyAdvantage, a London-based provider of financial-compliance software and data.

Crypto is grappling with bigger regulatory problems in the U.S. The country’s fragmented financial regulatory scheme, including multiple agencies jockeying for a role in crypto and 50 states exercising some level of financial oversight, is a headache.

  • Crypto is under fire on multiple fronts. The SEC is arguing that many cryptocurrencies are actually securities that must be subject to strict regulations. The Treasury Department is concerned with financial stability as well as money laundering and other crimes.
  • The U.S. has “separate securities laws and separate derivatives or commodities laws” as well as “very broad concepts of what constitutes a security,” Michael Philipp, partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, told Protocol.
  • That makes the U.S. the “most complex” and the “most difficult place to do business” for crypto companies, he added. Philipp’s advice for crypto entrepreneurs: “Unless you’re able to commit to the regulatory [process], start somewhere overseas.”
“Sanity and logic” prevailed in Europe, Anchorage Digital President Diogo Mónica said of the EU vote. But there are many other fights ahead for crypto on battlefields over potentially much tougher rules. If you’re planning to operate globally, prepare to rack up some miles. The only good news may be that Brussels Airlines is resuming its Dulles nonstop this month.

Niantic is building an AR map of the world

The company’s Visual Positioning System will help developers build location-based AR games and experiences; a new social app aims to help with AR content discovery.

VPS will allow developers to build location-based AR experiences for tens of thousands of public spaces.

Image: Niantic

Pokémon Go maker Niantic has quietly been building a 3D AR map of the world. Now, the company is getting ready to share the fruits of its labor with third-party developers: Niantic announced the launch of its Lightship Visual Positioning System at its developer summit in San Francisco on Tuesday. VPS will allow developers to build location-based AR experiences for tens of thousands of public spaces, Niantic said.

Niantic also announced a new service called Campfire that adds a social discovery layer to AR, starting with Niantic’s own games. Both announcements show that Niantic wants to be much more than a game developer with just one or two hit apps (and a couple of flops). Instead, it aims to play a key role in the future of AR — and it’s relying on millions of Ingress and Pokémon Go players to help build that future.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.


Why it's time to give all your employees executive coaching

In an effort to boost retention and engagement, companies are rolling out access to executive coaching to all of their employees.

Coaching is among personalized and exclusive benefits employers chose to offer their workforce during the pandemic.

Image: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Executive coaching has long been a quiet force behind leaders in the tech industry, but that premium benefit, often only offered to the top executives, is changing. A new wave of executive coaching services are hitting the market aimed at workers who would have traditionally been excluded from access.

Tech companies know that in order to stay competitive in today’s still-hot job market, it pays to offer more personalized and exclusive benefits. Chief People Officer Annette Reavis says Envoy, a workplace tech company, offers all employees access to a broad range of opportunities. “We offer everyone an L&D credit that they can spend on outside learning, whether it's executive coaching or learning a new coding language. We do this so that people can have access to and learn skills specific to their job.”

Keep Reading Show less
Amber Burton

Amber Burton (@amberbburton) is a reporter at Protocol. Previously, she covered personal finance and diversity in business at The Wall Street Journal. She earned an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and B.A. in English and Journalism from Wake Forest University. She lives in North Carolina.


Microsoft thinks Windows developers are ready for virtual workstations

The new Microsoft Dev Box service, coupled with Azure Deployment Environments, lets developers go from code to the cloud faster than ever.

Microsoft hopes a new cloud service will address one of developers' biggest challenges.

Photo: Grant Hindsley/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microsoft hopes a new cloud service will address one of the biggest challenges that developers have raised with the technology giant over the last several years: managing developer workstations.

Microsoft Dev Box, now in private preview, creates virtual developer workstations running its Windows operating system in the cloud, allowing development teams to standardize how those fundamental tools are initialized, set up and managed.

Keep Reading Show less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.


Okta CEO: 'We should have done a better job' with the Lapsus$ breach

In an interview with Protocol, Okta CEO Todd McKinnon said the cybersecurity firm could’ve done a lot of things better after the Lapsus$ breach of a third-party support provider earlier this year.

From talking to hundreds of customers, “I've had a good sense of the sentiment and the frustrations,” McKinnon said.

Photo: David Paul Morris via Getty Images

Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon agrees with you: Disclosing a breach that impacts customer data should not take months.

“If that happens in January, customers can't be finding out about it in March,” McKinnon said in an interview with Protocol.

Keep Reading Show less
Kyle Alspach

Kyle Alspach ( @KyleAlspach) is a senior reporter at Protocol, focused on cybersecurity. He has covered the tech industry since 2010 for outlets including VentureBeat, CRN and the Boston Globe. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and can be reached at

Latest Stories