FTX failure reminder of risks of investing in cryptocurrency

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New Zealanders are likely to be caught up in the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

The Financial Markets Authority has reinforced its warnings to consumers about the risks of trading in crypto assets in the wake of the collapse of global cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried put the US$32 billion exchange, along with FTX US and his trading firm Alameda Research, into bankruptcy on Friday, with creditors exceeding 100,000.

According to Australian media around 30,000 Australians have been caught up in the collapse. Questions to administrator Korda Mentha about whether any New Zealanders were creditors did not receive a response by deadline.

Paul Quickenden, head of New Zealand for EasyCrypto – a New Zealand-based crypto exchange – which has no links to FTX, said it was likely some New Zealand-based traders would have been affected.

“Given the scale of FTX and its standing, I would think that sadly, some NZ-based traders have been affected. However, due to the pseudo-anonymous way crypto works, I have no real insight into how many people that may be.”

An FMA spokesman said it had not received any complaints about FTX from New Zealand investors and said its message for consumers trading in crypto-assets had been consistent.

In the past the FMA has warned investors that crypto-assets are high risk and highly volatile and the price can go up and down very quickly.

Trading in cryptocurrency is not regulated in New Zealand. New Zealand-based platforms must be registered on the financial service providers register (FSPR) and belong to a dispute resolution scheme.

The regulator has also warned cryptocurrencies, crypto trading platforms and the people that use them are often the targets of hacking, online fraud and scams.

Investing in cryptocurrency has become more popular in recent years in New Zealand and there was a surge in 2021 when a number of coins rose sharply in value.

But over the last year many coins have fallen sharply in value and a number of trading platforms have gone under or been subject to hacking.

Around 10 per cent of New Zealanders are thought to have invested in cryptocurrency but their exposure is likely to be small.

An FMA survey in June 2021 found crypto only made up around 3.2 per cent of investors’ portfolios on average.



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