The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commissioner, Hester Peirce says while defi tokens carry some equity-like benefits, she believes that giving something away is distinct from selling something. As a result of this lack of clarity, Peirce says questions about the regulatory structure and how these tokens could affect corporate governance will continue to linger.
Speaking at the LA Blockchain Summit, the Commissioner’s remarks, which Peirce says represent her personal views, were made in response to the question of treating governance tokens that are used by many decentralized finance (defi) platforms as securities.
Instead, Peirce suggests that “people should come to talk to the SEC about how they intend to distribute tokens” although she cautions that “there are other people on the commission who might look at the same facts and circumstances differently than I do.”
Indeed, over the course of the year, U.S. regulators, including the SEC have pursued individuals and entities that were involved in raising funds via ICOs within the United States jurisdiction.
Citing Section 5(a) and 5(c) of the U.S. Securities Act, the regulators have charged many such individuals and entities, including gaming platform Unikrn, for alleged securities regulations violations that related ICOs of 2017. In Unikrn’s case, however, Peirce publicly dissented to the $6.1 million fine, saying this sends the wrong message to innovators.
Instead of imposing stiff fines, the “Crypto Mom”, as Peirce is affectionately known in crypto circles, prefers what she terms the “safe harbour” approach. Under this plan, cryptocurrency companies will be given three years to devolve power to their communities before the SEC takes action for the alleged violations of the securities laws.
Still, Peirce’s favourable stance on cryptos has not stopped the SEC from reportedly hinting that airdrops— which very are common in the defi space— could be seen as security offerings. That hint, together with growing concerns about the number of scams as well as a lack of regulation in the space, could see regulators pouncing on defi.
However, the recent Finder’s Cryptocurrency Predictions Report finds that the majority of the panelled experts believe the defi industry will self-correct in the next twelve months. For instance, in remarks obtained during the survey, one panellist, Jason Lau COO at Okcoin, told interviewers that “the longer-term outlook for defi is positive but says there will be many bumps in the road.”
Lau’s sentiments are also echoed by Gavin Smith, the managing partner at Panxora defi Hedge Fund, who says “the protocols are still in their infancy and have huge potential moving forward.” Meanwhile, the report found that 64% of the panellists actually expect Defi to grow “in both value locked and user count over the next 12 months.”
Still, about 13% of the panellists disagree, and instead, they believe Defi could be headed for troubled times. One such panellist sharing this particularly pessimistic outlook is Coinmama CEO Sagi Bakshi who says he “thinks defi is growing too fast in an irresponsible and unregulated manner.”
The survey report quotes Bakshi saying:
It will implode with a huge loss of users’ funds, something like Mt. Gox.
Although the majority of the panellists are optimistic about the future of Defi, they “also all concede there are barriers to growth.” The report states that “some 73% say scams, excessive hype and market manipulation will challenge defi growth.”
Half say general cryptocurrency frictions — such as private key management and price volatility — will make it harder for defi to grow, while 43% say a lack of public awareness is a major obstacle. Just over a quarter of panellists (27%) say defi has a lack of genuine value and real-world applications, which will make it harder for further adoption.
Will the Crypto Mom’s safe harbour proposal win more SEC support? Tell us what you think in the comments section below.