US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have announced their priorities for 2019, most notably among them: digital assets
The SEC is no stranger to cryptocurrency at this point, after having been bombarded with requests this year to approve a crypto ETF, alongside having attempted to make appropriate regulation for digital assets (with varying degrees of success) its fair to say that the crypto industry has been hard to ignore.
So hard to ignore in fact, that the SEC has announced that it plans to focus specifically on digital assets in the new year:
Our 2019 exam priorities will focus on digital assets, cybersecurity, and matters of importance to Main Street investors. See our five priority categories: https://t.co/Lyg6kRhZBG— SEC_News (@SEC_News) December 22, 2018
The accompanying press release further states:
“This year, particular emphasis will be on digital assets, cybersecurity, and matters of importance to retail investors, including fees, expenses, and conflicts of interest.”
Given the ever-growing cryptocurrency ecosystem, it's understandable that the SEC would put a special “emphasis” on the industry; this year has seen an increase of more than double the number of users within cryptocurrency a survey undertaken by Cambridge University.
this move is also understandable given that institutional investment is also said to be moving into the space in 2019, most notably the launches of Bakkt, and Fidelity, with both ventures expected to go live in January.
Some believe that its high time the SEC took this kind of view on digital assets, suggesting that the regulatory body needs to u the pace lest the US fall behind in the crypto race:
Please provide more clarity for the crypto market and also approve the Van Eck and CBOE Bitcoin ETFs, dont let the US get left behind in the crypto and blockchain tech boom— Thinking Crypto (@ThinkingCrypto1) December 22, 2018
Similarly, others criticized the SEC for their seeming lack of haste in regards to regulation:
What have the SEC been doing for the full year of 2018? Half the world is so far ahead of the USA. Get the finger out, get people together and lets get this regulated asap.— ecossexrp1 (@ecossexrp1) December 22, 2018
Man you guys might wanna slow down before you break the sound barrier or something— Crypt O 💧 (@CryptOH10) December 22, 2018
A turtle is faster than you guys. Sorry, your nation is going to be left behind on this investment opportunity. When that's said I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.— Terje Andersen (@TerjeAn77569828) December 22, 2018
Meanwhile, at SEC HQ... pic.twitter.com/k8CWdoclEP— Qasam Wahid (@QasamWahid) December 22, 2018
These comments are perhaps fair given the comparison between tUS regulation of cryptocurrencies and other countries. A vastly contrasting example would be Malta, a country which has widely accepted cryptocurrency. The Maltese government announced back in September two new pieces of legislation - the virtual financial assets act and the innovative technology arrangements and services act – both of these came into effect in November and gave greater clarity to laws surrounding virtual assets.