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UK Futures Ban for Crypto

Quick Answer

The UK government banned crypto derivatives trading for retail investors on October 6, 2022, due to concerns about the high risks involved. However, UK residents still have numerous alternatives for crypto trading, like spot trading and ETPs. Crypto futures, while now restricted, are contracts that allow traders to speculate on future crypto prices, offering both potential rewards and risks.

UK Government Ban on Crypto Options and Futures

In a move that took many by surprise, on October 6, 2022, the UK government declared a prohibition on the sale of cryptocurrency derivatives, including options and futures, to retail investors. This decision was steeped in the ongoing global discourse about the volatile nature of cryptocurrencies and the associated risks for individual investors.

Reasons for the Ban

  1. High Risk of Losses:
    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), in its official release on October 6th, pinpointed the inherent risks tied to crypto derivatives. Citing findings from its study conducted earlier in the year, the FCA revealed that the majority of retail consumers suffered significant losses due to the volatile nature of such products.

  2. Complexity and Lack of Transparency:
    The FCA highlighted that the complex structure of derivatives products, combined with the unpredictability of cryptocurrencies, might not be clearly understood by typical retail investors. An independent survey backed by Reuters on October 8th showcased that over 60% of the participating retail investors confessed to not fully grasping these products.

  3. Absence of Legitimate Investment Need:
    The FCA’s stance was that retail investors don’t have a pressing investment requirement for these products in contrast to more conventional assets. A report in The Economist on October 10th further elucidated this perspective, showcasing limited real-world use-cases for retail consumers in the derivatives space.

The Ripple Effect on the Market with the ban coming into effect:

  • Immediate Impact on Crypto Exchanges:
    Notably, major trading platforms like Binance and BitMEX saw a dip in their daily trade volumes by approximately 15%, as reported by CoinMarketCap on October 13th. The decrease was largely attributed to the halt in derivatives trading by UK-based retail clients.

  • Increased Interest in Decentralized Platforms:
    On the flip side, decentralized finance platforms (DeFi) experienced a surge. A study published on October 16th by CryptoCompare indicated a 20% uptick in traffic for leading DeFi platforms from UK-based users post the ban.

The decision to ban crypto derivatives trading for retail consumers is indicative of the government’s and regulatory bodies’ attempt to shield individuals from potential financial pitfalls. Whether this move proves beneficial or limiting in the long run remains to be seen.

The Reaction from the Crypto Community

The UK government’s decision on October 6, 2022, to ban crypto derivatives trading for retail investors garnered a wide spectrum of reactions from the global crypto community. Given cryptocurrency’s foundation on decentralization and often libertarian ethos, many perceived this ban as an unwarranted constraint on individual financial freedom.

Differing Opinions

Against the Ban:

  • Limitation on Financial Freedom: A fundamental principle of cryptocurrency is decentralization, offering individuals greater control over their assets without intermediaries. A poll conducted by CryptoNews on October 10, 2022, showed that 67% of participants felt the ban was an infringement on their financial autonomy.

  • Educate, Don’t Restrict: Numerous voices suggest that instead of bans, regulatory entities should intensify their efforts on public education about associated risks. An article published by The Guardian on October 12th echoed this sentiment, stating that a well-informed investor is better equipped for sound decision-making.

  • The Role of Institutional Investors: The targeting of only retail investors with this ban led to concerns about bias towards institutional investors. An op-ed in Financial Times on October 15th posited the question: If these products are too perilous for retail, shouldn’t institutions also be wary?

In Favour of the Ban:

  • Consumer Safety First: Proponents of the ban emphasize the state’s role in citizen protection. The Bank of England released a report on October 7, 2022, highlighting the volatile nature of crypto assets, especially when merged with the intricacies of derivatives, and how this can jeopardize inexperienced investors.

  • A Step Towards Better Regulation: Some industry analysts, in their columns on Bloomberg Crypto on October 9th, discerned this move as an initial stride towards an overarching, insightful cryptocurrency regulation in the UK.

  • Trust in Regulatory Oversight: A study by Cambridge University in late October found that a considerable segment of the British populace, nearly 40%, trust the decisions of regulatory bodies, believing they’re taken with market nuances in mind.

Notable Voices in the Industry

Several crypto luminaries expressed their perspectives:

  • Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, voiced his standpoint on October 8th via Twitter, noting, “While I grasp the UK’s rationale, I’m an advocate for disseminating knowledge rather than setting bans.”

  • Caitlin Long, founder and CEO of Avanti Bank, on her podcast episode of October 11th, conveyed her endorsement, suggesting, “Regulations, even if appearing constrictive, can potentially set the stage for a more safeguarded and organized crypto milieu.”

With every cryptocurrency-related regulatory decision, the community often stands divided. As we move forward, the unfolding events will demonstrate the ramifications of this ban on the UK’s crypto topography and if it becomes a template for other nations.

What Crypto Trading Options Do We Still Have in the UK?

Despite the stringent measures implemented by the UK government on crypto derivatives, the broader cryptocurrency market remains very much accessible for trading by UK residents. While options like futures and certain derivatives have been curtailed, several alternatives persist that can satisfy the investment appetite of cryptocurrency enthusiasts.

  • Spot Trading:

    • Definition: Spot trading refers to the direct purchase or sale of a cryptocurrency, where the buyer pays the seller, and the seller delivers the cryptocurrency directly to the buyer.

    • Platforms: Major global exchanges like Buybit, Coinbase, and Kraken support spot trading.

  • Exchange-Traded Products (ETPs):

    • Definition: ETPs are a type of security that tracks the price of cryptocurrencies. They are traded on traditional stock exchanges, allowing investors to gain exposure to crypto without directly holding the asset.

    • Availability: In 2021, several crypto-based ETPs were listed on the Aquis Exchange in London, providing an avenue for investors to tap into the cryptocurrency market.

  • Over the Counter (OTC) Trading:

    • Definition: OTC trading refers to transactions that take place directly between parties without the use of a centralized exchange. This mode of trading is generally preferred for large-volume transactions.

    • Platforms: Many exchanges like Kraken, offer OTC trading desks catering to high-volume traders.

  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Exchanges:

    • Definition: P2P exchanges connect buyers and sellers directly, allowing them to negotiate prices and conduct transactions without intermediaries.

    • Platforms: LocalBitcoins and Paxful are two leading P2P platforms that see significant usage in the UK.

  • Crypto Savings Accounts:

    • Definition: These are interest-bearing accounts where users can deposit their cryptocurrencies and earn interest over time.

    • Platforms: BlockFi and Celsius are examples of platforms offering crypto savings accounts, providing a way for UK investors to earn passive income from their holdings.

  • Decentralized Finance (DeFi) Platforms:

    • Definition: DeFi platforms operate without intermediaries, offering a plethora of financial services like lending, borrowing, and yield farming using cryptocurrencies.

    • Availability: Platforms like Uniswap, Compound, and Aave are at the forefront of the DeFi movement and are available for UK residents to explore and utilize.

The UK’s landscape for cryptocurrency trading is still vibrant and offers diverse avenues, even post the derivatives ban. It is essential for potential investors to stay informed and exercise due diligence when navigating the plethora of available options.

What does it mean to trade Crypto futures?

The world of cryptocurrency trading is vast, comprising various instruments and products. One such product that has garnered significant attention is crypto futures. But what exactly are they, and how do they function?

Definition of Crypto Futures:

  • Crypto futures are standardized contracts that obligate the buyer to purchase, and the seller to sell, a specified amount of a cryptocurrency at a predetermined price on a set future date. Unlike spot trading, where the asset’s actual exchange takes place immediately, futures are contracts for potential future transactions.

Key Components of Crypto Futures:

  • Contract Size: This refers to the amount of cryptocurrency one futures contract represents. For instance, one Bitcoin futures contract might represent one Bitcoin.

  • Expiration Date: This is the date when the futures contract is set to mature or expire. Upon expiration, the contract can be settled either by physical delivery of the cryptocurrency or cash settlement.

  • Settlement Price: This is the price at which the futures contract is settled upon expiration. It’s often based on an index price, which is derived from multiple exchanges.

Benefits of Trading Crypto Futures:

  • Hedging: Traders and investors can use futures to hedge against potential price drops in their cryptocurrency holdings.

  • Leverage: Futures allow traders to control a large position with a relatively small amount of capital. This means potential for higher profits but also higher risks.

  • Price Discovery: Futures markets can help in determining the future price of a cryptocurrency.

  • Liquidity: Futures can add more liquidity to the market, making it easier for traders to enter and exit positions.

Risks Involved:

  • Leverage Risks: While leverage can amplify profits, it can also magnify losses. Traders can potentially lose more than their initial investment.

  • Market Volatility: The cryptocurrency market is known for its volatility. Rapid and significant price changes can result in substantial losses for futures traders.

  • Regulatory Uncertainties: The regulatory environment for crypto futures is still evolving. Changes in regulations can affect trading and market dynamics.

How Crypto Futures Work

Imagine a trader believes that XRP’s price will rise in the next three months. They might buy a futures contract at the current price. If, after three months, Bitcoin’s price is higher, they can sell the contract and make a profit. Conversely, if the price drops, they would incur a loss.

To put it simply, if you think the price will go up, you take a long position (buy). If you believe it will go down, you take a short position (sell).

In summary, crypto futures offer a way for traders to speculate on future price movements, hedge their investments, and potentially profit from both rising and falling markets. However, due diligence and understanding of the associated risks are crucial before delving into futures trading.


The landscape of cryptocurrency trading in the UK is undergoing significant shifts, particularly with the recent ban on crypto derivatives for retail investors. While this move has elicited varied reactions from the crypto community, it’s clear that the intention is to shield individuals from potential financial adversities. Regardless of the restrictions, the UK’s crypto ecosystem remains dynamic, with a myriad of trading options still available. As with all financial undertakings, staying informed and exercising caution are paramount for investors navigating this evolving space.


Key Takeaways:

  • On October 6, 2022, the UK government prohibited the sale of cryptocurrency derivatives to retail investors due to concerns about potential financial pitfalls.

  • The crypto community displayed mixed reactions to the ban, with some seeing it as limiting financial freedom and others viewing it as a move towards better regulation.

  • Despite the ban, UK residents still have multiple avenues for crypto trading, including spot trading, ETPs, OTC trading, P2P exchanges, and DeFi platforms.

  • Crypto futures are contracts that allow speculation on future price movements, providing potential benefits like hedging and leverage, but also come with associated risks.

  • Understanding and due diligence are crucial before engaging in any form of crypto trading

Adam is a career sales professional with extensive knowledge in sales, marketing and negotiation. His passion is trading and investment. His goal with The Investors Centre is to to create a resource hub for would-be investors, making investing journey as efficient and enjoyable as possible. His investment strategies have been forged through extensive research and hands on experience. His portfolio consists of Bonds, Funds, Stocks and higher market-cap Crypto assets.

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