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SEC’s New Outlook for Crypto

SEC commissioner says “We still don’t know what crypto is going to become.”

In a virtual panel last Tuesday, Hester Peirce – the blockchain-minded SEC commissioner often referred to as “Crypto Mom”– shared some insight into her approach to regulating cryptocurrencies.

“We still don’t know what crypto is going to become,” she said, emphasizing the need for regulation that both inspires growth in burgeoning tech and keeps criminals at bay.

The talk was organized by RealClearPolicy, a conservative political news site that has taken a determinedly pro-Trump turn in recent years. Equitably, the three other panelists were staunch conservatives: Roslyn Layton of Forbes; Representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina’s 10th congressional district; and J.W. Verret, a law professor, and former Trump advisor.

The topic of the talk was seemingly the question of crypto regulation in the Biden era, even though the conversation was detailed, covering everything from privacy issues to efforts at creating bipartisan coalitions around crypto legislation.

Although Layton, McHenry, and Verret all agreed they would like to see the Trump-appointed Peirce in the role of SEC Chair, they also learned in the call that it has been reported that Gary Gensler was Biden’s choice.

Gary’s worldview is well-known as it pertains to his previous role in the Obama administration,” McHenry said. “His views in many respects have been shaped by his post-regulator career, and I think he has a broad understanding of financial technology and financial innovation. And in that regard, I have a sense of optimism that he may bring a thoughtful approach to his new role as a regulator.”

The speculation of how Biden’s administration will approach crypto regulation has been judging heavily on the minds of both smaller traders and corporations.

“We have seen during 2020 quite a bit of institutional interest and retail interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” said Peirce, proposing that the SEC take a “fresh look” at regulation in the Biden era.

Peirce refused to comment on Biden’s choosing Gensler for SEC Chair, although she discussed cryptocurrency with him at the MIT Bitcoin Expo in 2019, where she joked about calling him “Crypto Great-Grandfather.”

Alternatively, she spoke about how the “freedom to engage in financial transactions without being surveilled” will be a vital part of her approach to legislation going forward, maybe referencing recently proposed rules from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) that mandated reporting requirements for crypto wallet transactions.

The commitment to protecting privacy is not new for Peirce. She has spoken in the past about the need for increased financial privacy and insisted that the SEC needs to step up with those kinds of protections.

However, change is not that easy.

“Regulatory agencies tend to be quite conservative when it comes to change,” she revealed.

And while the progressive Gensler may choose another track, Peirce’s tone has been consistent.

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