SEC Commissioner Fears ‘Heel-Dragging’ Will Stifle Crypto Innovation

Hester M. Peirce, a member of the Securities and Trade Commission, is nervous that the regulator is moving way too slowly but surely for the crypto ecosystem.

Addressing fellow regulators at the Securities Enforcement Forum in Palo Alto, California (the heart of Silicon Valley) on Monday, Peirce said that just one calendar year ago she was worried that the SEC “as just one of [the token market’s] potential regulators, would stifle its progress.”

She wryly additional: “I will confess today that I was really completely wrong, not about regardless of whether the SEC would stifle the industry’s growth—it has—but in how it would do it.”

Instead than becoming heavyhanded in enforcing the rules as she feared, the company has alternatively been way too sluggish to make clear or update them, Peirce discussed:

I nervous that hasty regulation would smother the industry in its infancy. My fears did not develop into reality. The enforcement steps we have taken to day in the crypto area have—for the most part—exhibited acceptable restraint. On the regulatory aspect, “hasty” is not the word I would use to explain the SEC’s speed. It is not the SEC’s overzealous action that has stifled the crypto industry, but its unwillingness to take meaningful action at all.

Her main issue is that while the SEC has performed a terrific deal to arrive at out to fast-moving startups, the equipment it employs to evaluate when regulations utilize – which include the Howey test for deciding regardless of whether a thing meets the definition of a security – are nevertheless dangerously out-of-day.

To be certain, Peirce credited the SEC for becoming open and forward-wondering about communicating with startups. The SEC’s FinHub community has been leading in startup outreach and most not long ago held a meetup in Denver the place blockchain companies came to talk immediately with regulators.

Regrettably, she explained, factors are not moving fast enough on the clarity front:

The SEC has nonetheless to offer steering to the general public or FINRA on any of the main questions. The final result is that numerous would-be brokers and buying and selling platforms are stuck in a aggravating ready method they are unable to get very clear solutions to questions about how they may carry on in this market place.

Even though emphasizing that she was happy of the do the job performed by the SEC and its attendant securities markets, Peirce warned that the recent inertia threatens to undermine all those successes, concluding:

“The U.S. securities markets have traditionally been the envy of the earth I do not want heel-dragging by the SEC in crypto to mar that effectively-deserved status.”

Hester Peirce graphic via Christine Kim for CoinDesk.