SEC greenlights expanded dealer rule: DeFi in the crosshairs


  • The SEC expanded rules on Feb 6, requiring more market participants, including crypto and DeFi, to register and comply with federal securities laws.
  • New definitions for “dealer” and “government securities dealer” could significantly increase oversight of the crypto sector.
  • Market participants controlling $50 million or more are particularly targeted by the new rules.

The SEC has officially thrown its hat into the ring, not to wrestle but to referee the burgeoning crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) sectors with a tighter grip. On February 6th, a sweeping expansion of rules was ushered in, marking a significant shift in how market participants, particularly those within the crypto realm, will navigate the regulatory landscape. The adoption of these rules, sprawling across 247 pages of regulatory prose, signals a broadening of the SEC’s oversight, casting a net that aims to encompass a wider array of market movers under its watchful eye.

A New Definition in Town

With the ink barely dry, the SEC’s latest regulatory playbook redefines the terms “dealer” and “government securities dealer,” shaking the very foundation of the Securities Act Rules. By tweaking the phrase “as a part of a regular business” within the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the SEC has effectively widened its fishing grounds for entities that must now register, join a self-regulatory organization, and comply with a suite of federal securities laws and regulations. This isn’t just a minor adjustment; it’s a seismic shift aimed squarely at those who play a “significant liquidity-providing role” in the markets. If you’re out there capturing bid-ask spreads or dancing near the best available prices on both sides of the market, congratulations, you might just be a dealer in the SEC’s eyes.

The threshold for this designation isn’t for the faint-hearted either; control or possession of $50 million puts you squarely in the spotlight. The decision, split along party lines, saw the two Republican SEC members casting dissenting votes, underlining the contentious nature of this regulatory expansion. While the crypto community and its advocates might have hoped for a footnote, what they got instead was a dedicated section in the final rule, signaling the SEC’s intent to fold crypto trading activities into its regulatory tapestry.

DeFi and Crypto: Caught in the SEC’s Crossfire

This isn’t just about adding another layer of paperwork for the market’s big fish. The implications for the crypto and DeFi sectors are profound. By casting a functional analysis net based on securities trading activities, the SEC is making it clear: the type of security being traded is irrelevant. This approach potentially places a significant portion of the crypto trading and DeFi activities under the SEC’s purview, irrespective of the digital or decentralized nature of these transactions.

The dialogue surrounding this rule change has been as polarizing as it is pivotal. On one side, proponents argue that closing the loophole for unregistered dealers is a necessary step towards protecting market integrity. On the other, critics, including Republican SEC member Mark Uyeda, decry the rule’s vast jurisdictional claim as overreach, sparking concern over the SEC’s expansive interpretation of its mandate.

Amidst this regulatory tug-of-war, Congress has been busy with its own moves against the SEC’s encroachments, specifically targeting the Staff Accounting Bulletin 121 (SAB 121). This particular bulletin has ruffled feathers by requiring banks to hold their client’s crypto assets on the balance sheet, a move that some lawmakers argue could deter banks from serving as crypto custodians. Efforts to repeal SAB 121 through the Congressional Review Act underscore the ongoing battle between regulatory bodies and legislative oversight, with the crypto industry and its advocates caught in the middle.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Jai Hamid

Jai Hamid is a passionate writer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, the global economy, and literature. She dedicates most of her time to exploring the transformative potential of crypto and the dynamics of worldwide economic trends.

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