The U.S. securities regulator will set up two new offices to deal with filings related to crypto assets and the life sciences sector, Reuters reported. According to Reuters, the “Office of Crypto Assets” and the “Office of Industrial Applications and Services” will join seven other existing offices under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) department, which handles corporate disclosure findings.
The Securities And Exchange Commission (SEC) posted a press release titled: “SEC Division of Corporation Finance to Add Industry Offices Focused on Crypto Assets and Industrial Applications and Services”. From the press release (posted September 9, 2022):
The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced plans to add an Office of Crypto Assets and an Office of Industrial Applications and Services to the Division of Corporation Finance’s Disclosures Review Program (DRP). The DRP has long had offices to review company filings by issuers. The two new offices will join the seven existing offices that provide focused review of issuer filings and that are grouped by industry experts to further the Division’s work to promote capital formation and protect investors. The DRP anticipates the new offices to be established later this fall…
According to the press release, The Office of Crypto Assets will continue the work currently performed across the DRP to review filings involving crypto assets. Assessing companies and filings to one office will enable the DRP to better focus its resources and expertise to address the unique and evolving filing review issues related to crypto assets.
The Office of Industrial Applications and Services will be responsible for the non-pharma, non-biotech, and non-medical products companies currently assigned to the Office of Life Sciences. In recent years, the life sciences industry has experienced significant growth, which has added to the number of filings and companies assigned to that office. Transitioning a subset of these companies to a separate group will allow the DRP staff to build better specialized expertise.
Reuters reported that cryptocurrencies and other digital assets have soared in popularity over recent years and are getting increasingly intertwined with the regulated financial system, saddling policymakers with monitoring risks in a largely unregulated field. Allegations of money laundering against some crypto firms as well as consumer data violations in the United States, the biggest market for digital assets, have also affected demand.
In March of 2022, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on the government to examine the risks and benefits of cryptocurrencies, CNBC reported. According to CNBC, that order was signed by President Biden. The order called on federal agencies to take a unified approach to regulation and oversight of digital assets (according to a White House fact sheet).
Personally, I am not surprised that the U.S. federal government wants to put in place specific offices that can review filings of crypto assets. Cryptocurrency, after all, is a form of currency. As such, it appears to fall under rules similar to that of other types of currency or assets.