The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) held its first FinTech Forum in Washington, D.C. Friday. The goal was for the agency to learn more about blockchain and digital assets from leaders in the industry  

They did Their Homework

Many who expected the forum to be a blockchain 101 course for regulators were mistaken. The SEC proved that they have been doing their homework, and they came prepared to show their stuff. From atomic swaps to forks and airdrops, the agency covered some of crypto and blockchain’s most technical terminology with ease.

According to Coindesk, several attendees referenced a question from Elizabeth Baird, deputy director of the Division of Trading and Markets, that asked whether or not atomic swaps reduce risk in transferring or exchanging cryptos.

“It was a much higher-level discussion than the basics of blockchain,” commented panelist Joshua Ashley Klayman.

Despite proving their blockchain knowledge, the SEC provided very little additional regulatory clarity. In Valerie Szczepanik, the SEC’s senior advisor for digital assets, closing remarks, she referenced the agency’s two “comprehensive letters” that asked for input on “things like custody, manipulation, liquidity, valuation, redemption,” and again invited the community to weigh in.

Regulators Divided

In the days following, less comprehensive statements were made by her colleagues. Chairman of the SEC, Jay Clayton, reiterated his concerns over price manipulation and custody as the two main hindrances in passing Bitcoin ETFs.

In stark contrast, Hester Peirce, a Commissioner of the SEC, urged her colleagues to allow for more innovation in the ETF space by lessening their caution. According to the Financial Times, Peirce noted that the SEC is “still smothering ETFs with personalized attention as if they were infants.”

While the outcome of ETFs remain uncertain, one thing is clear, the SEC has yet to come to a consensus on crypto regulations. If only they were more like blockchains…

Quote of the Day:

“We also learned that federal securities laws are just as complex to computer scientists as coding smart contracts in Solidity are to regulators.”

— Valerie Szczepanik, SEC Senior Advisor for Digital Trading


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