Speaking to financial lobby group The City UK on Wednesday, Griffiths-Jones said cryptocurrencies should be brought within the FCA’s regulatory power to avoid causing harm to consumers.
The outgoing chairman said rapid technological advancement has provided the watchdog with “an additional rich source” of issues to address, such as abuse of data, and left consumers facing conflicting messages over cryptocurrencies.
Griffiths-Jones said: “The hot topic of the day is what to do about cryptocurrencies, to which on the one hand the official sector does not wish to afford the status of a currency, but which are being advertised to the consumer as alluring investments on billboards in Canary Wharf.
“Therefore, have all the potential of causing consumer harm unless brought within the regulatory perimeter.”
No time for low standards
Griffiths-Jones also warned over the “grinding noise of politics bumping up against economics” that makes the outcome of Brexit negotiations uncertain, but said the regulator must not lower its standards during and after the process is complete.
He also backed FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey’s measured public approach to the UK leaving the EU.
“Many people had been urging the FCA to take a more public opinionated stance on Brexit,” he said. “I wholly endorse Andrew Bailey’s measured comments in public, coupled with his intense and influential activity in private. The FCA will, after all, need to be there regulating, whatever the outcome.
“One thing is clear in my mind, I have no time for any sort of regulatory race to lower standards. On the contrary, I believe that the FCA’s excellence as a regulator is crucial in facilitating the City’s successful future in a Brexit world.”
Justice for all
Elsewhere, Griffiths-Jones was critical of the accessibility to the law by the consumer, particularly the less wealthy, which he believes is hampered by complexity and cost.
He also said there is a significant mismatch between the external view of the regulator’s powers and the legal constraints it feels it must regard.
He said: “‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ has more than an element of truth to it in money matters. A four-year legal process and a dense thicket of jurisprudential argument provide a far less attractive route to redress than the use of 24/7 media and the associated parliamentary support to pressurise the regulator to short circuit due process in contentious cases.
“I am further struck by the ready availability of civil justice in the UK to the globally wealthy, while out of financial reach to most British citizens.”
Griffiths-Jones announced in June last year he would be stepping down from the chairman role. In January, it was announced lawyer Charles Randell would move into the role on 1 April.