SEC Will Be Forced to Give Crypto Guidance Despite Bureaucracy, Risk Avoidance: Peirce

Increased interest in the crypto space will necessitate a more accommodative stance, the commissioner predicted.

Oct 10, 2020 at 6:59 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:07 a.m. UTC

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Hester Peirce, well known for her pro-cryptocurrencies views, said increased interest in the space will necessarily force the regulatory body to shift toward a more accommodating stance, but it won't be easy, according to a recent interview with Cointelegraph.

  • "While we've been very slow in giving guidance, there is more and more interest from a wide spectrum of people, both inside the crypto space as well as inside the traditional financial institutions who are asking us for guidance," Peirce said. "The landscape is changing so quickly."
  • "So I think we're going to be forced to confront that more and more in the coming years."
  • Peirce blamed bureaucracy for the SEC's slowness to react to financial innovation, saying it acts as an impediment to change and discourages risk-taking.
  • "It's really difficult," the commissioner said. "There's so many different layers of bureaucracy things need to get through and people tend to be very hesitant to make decisions because when they do the ramifications come back on them if something goes wrong so it's easier to kick the can down the road."
  • On the positive side, Peirce said that pro-crypto moves in the U.S. by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as well as actions by regulators in other countries are slowly prodding the SEC into action.
  • She also said there are a growing number of people at the SEC, many who are interested in crypto, who want the body to become more innovation-friendly. That, combined with the growing interest in financial innovation, will eventually cause the regulatory agency to shift, she said.
  • On another issue, the commissioner said Congress needs to be thinking about smart contracts and decentralized finance so it can give the SEC directives on how it wants the regulator to handle them.
  • Peirce said that while she hopes the SEC will revisit its decisions to reject BTC Exchange-Traded Funds, she declined to predict whether the regulator will ever approve them, saying the SEC seems to have made up its own standards just for BTC.
  • Though the commissioner called the prospect of a digital dollar "likely," that's not where she says the real action is.
  • "I think a lot of the really interesting innovation is happening outside of sort of the central bank digital currency space."

UPDATE 23:59 UTC: Adds comments from Peirce about hurdles to financial innovation at the SEC

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