Last week, PYMNTS reported that José Manuel Campa, Chair of the European Banking Authority (EBA), had raised concerns about regulators’ inability to hire and retain the talent needed to oversee the cryptoasset market.
Part of the challenge for regulators is that the knowledge and experience required to deal with the crypto sector is limited. As the industry has rapidly accelerated, demand for the limited crypto talent pool has increased.
See also: EBA Chair says staffing is a “key concern” for crypto regulation
The industry is now in a place where regulators are competing with the very organizations they want to regulate for the best employees.
PYMNTS recently interviewed the CEO of Nigerian blockchain startup AppZone, Obi Emetarom, an entrepreneur who has seen firsthand the difficulties of sourcing talent with the right knowledge and skills. In fact, Emetarom listed the lack of experienced crypto experts as the biggest challenge AppZone faces today.
Continue reading: Stablecoins and CBDCs face major hurdles before turning off fiat
But Emetarom was careful to distinguish between talent and expertise. He said that “there is raw talent everywhere, […] it’s more about honing that talent [so that it] has developed the right level of expertise to support and execute all of these innovations.”
Like many others in the industry, AppZone takes a two-pronged approach to the crypto hiring challenge.
On the one hand, the pan-African company needed to further cast the recruitment net, as Emetarom put it, “open up sourcing and [going] beyond local or regional borders.” On the other hand, they have increased their focus on recruiting and training talent to develop the blockchain experts of tomorrow.
Challenges for the future of EU crypto regulation
The EBA’s concerns about the current shortage of crypto experts are similar to those faced by companies like AppZone, but with one key difference.
Technical skills are relatively transgressive and this opens up the opportunity to hire remotely, a growing reality for a wide spectrum of software companies. However, legal expertise tends to focus on specific jurisdictions.
In the European context dealt with by the EBA, European Union law constitutes a whole field of legal practice with specialized courses, training programs and career paths for those who enter it.
As EU regulators require experts with a very specific combination of legal and technical knowledge, training can take years and the talent pool is inevitably geographically concentrated in Europe.
Additionally, as Campa acknowledged in Financial Times comments, the “very dynamic” nature of the crypto sector makes it difficult to impossible to predict the shape of future innovation.
Related: The head of the European Banking Authority needs staff to govern crypto
And by 2025, when EU legislation on crypto asset markets (MiCA) is due to come into force, the industry may have moved on to the next thing. While legislators have made efforts to future-proof the MiCA framework, interpreting the new regulations will require regulators who can keep up with the pace of innovation.
See also: ECB is pushing for rapid implementation of MiCA
In this regard, cooperation between regulators and industry leaders will be crucial. The FinTechs developing tomorrow’s crypto assets and blockchain technologies are best placed to advise on the kind of knowledge regulators need to cultivate today.
As the crypto-asset market matures, regulators, FinTechs, and other stakeholders will need to find their place in the evolving ecosystem that is bringing other technologies into play as well.
For example, MiCA legislation will require those operating in crypto asset markets to declare information about their environmental and climate footprint. However, the kind of RegTech needed to accurately report the environmental impact of complex financial instruments like multi-asset crypto funds is itself still in its infancy.
Continue reading: The EU’s landmark MiCA legislation hits stablecoins hard
If the MiCA legislation is to introduce a system that is robust enough to provide stability but flexible enough to adapt to inventions, the EU needs highly skilled and sufficiently staffed regulators.
So the recent intervention by the EBA Chair appears to be a call to arms. Ultimately, all parties that want the European crypto sector to flourish have an interest in cultivating this pool of highly skilled talent.
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