US Sees Nationwide Crackdown on Crypto by SEC

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reportedly launched a nationwide crackdown on what it deems to be pontential misconduct involving cryptocurrencies.
According to three undisclosed sources who spoke with Politico, the SEC’s Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations has been asking professional investment advisors, who manages more than USD 100 million, for information about initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies.

According to Politico, the so-called investment advisors include large institutional investors like private equity funds and hedge funds that are operating in the cryptocurrency space.
One issue the SEC is reportedly looking into is that of custody for cryptocurrency investors. In the world of traditional finance, third party custody solutions are normally mandatory to use for professional money managers. However, the lack of such solutions in the cryptocurrency space means many firms have come up with their own solutions, thus operating in a legal grey area.

Another problem is that the lack of regulatory clarity means professional money managers to a large extent don’t know how they should report their crypto activities to the SEC in order to stay compliant. However, according to Gail Bernstein, general counsel at the Investment Adviser Association, the best thing they can do is just to think of crypto investments as any other investment “through the lens of their fiduciary duty and compliance programs.” He told Politico, that “typically, after a sweep of this type, the SEC staff will publish its findings and observations, and that can provide very helpful guidance for advisers as they consider their compliance obligations.”

In other words, investment advisors dealing with crypto investments for clients better hope the SEC will choose someone else to set an example for the rest of the industry to learn from.

Last year, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said that the agency will “police this area [cryptocurrencies] vigorously and recommend enforcement actions against those that conduct initial coin offerings in violation of the federal securities laws.”

Author: Fredrik Vold
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Analyst: Bitcoin Needs Blessing From SEC to Rally, Market Desperate

Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets UK, has stated that Bitcoin needs a blessing from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revitalize and experience a recovery in price.

According to Aslam, the approval of the first Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), which would allow accredited investors and individual traders in US markets to invest in cryptocurrencies, could be a major factor to revitalize the cryptocurrency market.

“Bitcoin needs some sort of a blessing and only that can revitalize the rally for the currency. I think that the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] seeking a public opinion about the Bitcoin ETF [exchange-traded fund] is a positive sign, the department perhaps wants to respect the public opinion and most importantly wants to see the accurate landscape.” Aslam said.

ETF Will be Approved by the SEC if Enough Demand Exists

Considering the abrupt drop in the price of Bitcoin from $6,600 to $6,250 and the sheer intensity of its short-term decline, the dominant cryptocurrency will need a strong catalyst to initiate any promising upwards rally in the weeks and months to come.

If the approval of the first Bitcoin ETF by the SEC is the catalyst that could allow BTC to recover and test higher resistance levels at $7,000, $8,000, and $9,000, then BTC will not see a positive price action until the end of 2018 because the final deadlines of VanEck and Cboe Bitcoin ETFs are in early 2019.

VanEck and Cboe Bitcoin ETFs are said to have the highest probability of being the first ETFs to be approved by the SEC due to decades of track record the two institutions have demonstrated in the traditional finance sector of the US.

Aslam explained that the SEC is unlikely to reject a Bitcoin ETF that fulfills the requirements laid out by the SEC if the demand from the public is sufficiently strong to justify the approval of an ETF around an emerging asset class.

“If the public interest shows that the support is in favor of ETF it is highly unlikely that the department would reject an actual application which satisfies their criteria,” Aslam said.

As such, Jake Chervinsky, government enforcement defense and securities litigation attorney at Kobre & Kim LLP, encouraged investors in the cryptocurrency market to submit comments to the SEC regarding the approval of Bitcoin ETFs filed in the US.

“Reminder: you have one week left to submit comments in response to the SEC’s questions on the VanEck/SolidX bitcoin ETF proposal. Public opinion matters. Be heard,” said Chervinsky.

Better Alternatives to ETFs

Currently the majority of the cryptocurrency exchange market remains optimistic about various alternatives to Bitcoin ETFs that could have a similar impact on the price of the asset.

NYSE and ICE’s Bakkt, a regulated digital asset platform designed to enable consumers and institutions to seamlessly buy, sell, store, and spend cryptocurrencies, will serve both institutional investors and retail traders in the traditional finance sector.

Coinbase, BitGo, and major financial institutions have also started to provide crypto custodian solutions to better facilitate growing demand from institutions.

The catalyst of the next Bitcoin price surge could be the approval of the first BTC ETF or an influx of institutional investors in the market. Either way, the cryptocurrency market currently needs a strong motivation to bounce back to its previous levels.

Author: Joseph Young
Image Credit: Image from Shutterstock