For many years, more and more people in Poland have been interested in cryptocurrencies - buying and selling them. This raises the question of whether Polish law regulates the cryptocurrency market. The answer, unfortunately, is not satisfactory. At the moment, the most information about virtual currencies can be found in the Act of 1 March 2018 on the prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism. It must be admitted that the very placement of the provisions on cryptocurrencies in this type of act raises questions.
However, the legislator took up the challenge of defining virtual currencies by stating that they should be understood as a digital representation of value that is exchangeable in economic transactions into legal tender and accepted as a means of exchange, and can be electronically stored or transferred or can be electronically traded. At the same time, it was pointed out that virtual currency is not:
- a legal tender issued by the NBP, foreign central banks or other public administrations,
- an international unit of account established by an international organisation and accepted by individual countries belonging to or cooperating with that organisation,
- electronic money within the meaning of the Act of 19 August 2011 on payment services,
- a financial instrument within the meaning of the Act of 29 July 2005 on Trading in Financial Instruments,
- a bill of exchange or a cheque.
These residual regulations in no way change the fact that the Financial Supervision Authority warns against cryptocurrencies all the time. According to the official position of the FSC, at this moment both the issuance, trading and brokering of cryptocurrencies are not regulated in the EU. This means that the market has no regulations governing at least investor protection, and the market itself is not licensed or supervised by the FSC in any way. Therefore, the FSC points to a number of risks associated with the crypto market, highlighting, among others, the very high volatility of values, the highly speculative nature caused by the lack of effective and proven valuation methods, or the risk of losing access to one's own funds due to the early stage of development and the high complexity of the technology used.
This situation may improve in 2026, thanks to the EU Crypto Market Regulation (MiCA Regulation), which was published on 9 June 2023. With some exceptions, it will take effect from 30 December 2024, but the transitional period provided for in it may even last until 1 July 2026. This means that for a few more years crypto providers will be able to continue to provide services in an unregulated manner.
It is not encouraging that, even before the MiCA regulation comes into force, the FSA stresses that the future regulations will not be sufficient anyway, and that the protection of people investing in cryptocurrencies will not be at the same high level as the protection of investors operating in the traditional financial market. However, this does not mean that one should give up. The race between legal regulation and the ever-emerging new technologies is uneven, but necessary. All the more so because the legal sorting out of an activity often contributes to its development and even greater popularity. Let us hope that, thanks to the hard work of legislators, existing market participants and experts in the field of cyber security, this is what will happen to the crypto market.