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Peirce Targets SEC Approach on Cryptocurrencies

In a recent speech, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce continued to champion innovation, noting that the SEC could be more “nimble in dealing with fintech innovations that are intended to create more opportunities for investors to gain exposure to our markets.” Peirce has been an advocate for emerging technologies, earning her the title “crypto mom.” She called out a recent SEC decision to deny an exchange’s bid to list shares of the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust and noted that the SEC suspended U.S. trading in two Swedish products tied to Bitcoin that were being quoted in the U.S. on OTC Link. In addition to the SEC’s recent actions, FINRA issued a disciplinary action against a company, claiming that it committed fraud and illegaly distributed an unregistered, cannabis-focused cryptocurrency security, the Wall Street Journal reported. Peirce emphasized that regulators should have “an appropriate degree of humility” when engaging with attempts to bring such products to the market. She noted the increasing investor demand for emerging technologies despite the well-publicized risks and the importance of providing innovators with greater clarity and certainty in their interactions with the SEC and its staff. Peirce warned that if regulators do not become more comfortable with risk, their scrutiny could slow innovation and cause firms to devote increasingly more resources to meeting regulatory demands. Meanwhile, according to media reports, Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson suggested at a Boston conference that the asset manager may launch blockchain and cryptocurrency-related products and services over the next few months.