The U.K. Prudential Regulation Authority has published a Dear CEO letter, addressed to CEOs of banks, setting out its expectations of banks (deposit-takers) regarding the risks that arise from innovations in digital money and money-like instruments available to retail customers. The letter focuses on innovations in the use of deposits (and tokenized deposits), e-money and regulated stablecoins used for payment (which are being brought into the regulatory perimeter).
The PRA sets out how banks are expected to limit contagion arising from confusion regarding the different protections available to retail holders of bank deposits, e-money and regulated stablecoins. Where a bank or its group want to issue e-money or regulated stablecoins, that activity should be carried out from an insolvency-remote entity that is separate to the bank, with different branding from the bank to ensure that any failure of the e-money or stablecoin issuer would not impact the bank and the continuity of its deposit-taking services. The PRA also expects any tokenized deposit-taking to be undertaken in a way that ensures protection under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. An e-money or stablecoin issuer that decides to accept traditional deposits would first need to establish a separate entity to obtain permission to operate as a bank.
The PRA's letter comes at the same time that the Financial Conduct Authority and Bank of England have published their discussion papers on their approach to regulating the issuance and custody of fiat backed stablecoins and managing the risk of systemic payment systems using fiat-backed stablecoins. Those discussion papers were published shortly after HM Treasury confirmed that fiat-backed stablecoins would be brought into the U.K. regulatory perimeter.