The head of a British financial regulator has warned that people stand to lose their funds if they invest in bitcoin.

Andrew Bailey, chief executive of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), told the BBC’s Newsnight program that buying bitcoin poses similar risks to gambling and, since it is neither backed by central authorities nor regulated, the cryptocurrency is not a safe investment.

Talking to Newsnight, he continued:

“It is a very volatile commodity in terms of its pricing … If you want to invest in bitcoin be prepared to lose your money – that would be my serious warning.”

Bailey went on to say that “commodities” like bitcoin are not regulated by financial watchdogs in the U.K., and that it was up to parliament to decide on any changes in those rules. However, citing the recent U.S. launch of bitcoin futures contracts by CBOE, he said: “If you buy a future or if you buy an option then we do come into the picture.”

The FCA’s director of strategy and competition, Chris Woolard, addressed the same subject back in June, cautioning investors that, as cryptocurrencies are not regulated financial instruments, they do not have the consumer protections associated with traditional assets.

And, in September, the authority also issued a formal warning on initial coin offerings (ICOs) stating that they constitute “very high-risk, speculative investments.”

London image via Shutterstock

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