The Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly looking into cryptocurrency deals at brokerages, according to a report from Bloomberg. The regulatory agency is seeking answers to questions about brokerage business practices involving trading fees, financing, and ICOs.
Reports suggest that the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) is handling the review. OCIE conducts examinations to help the SEC fulfill its role in securing integrity for the markets and protection for investors. Suspected wrongdoing generally results in a referral to the agency’s enforcement division, which then conducts formal investigations.
Bloomberg quoted Georgetown University’s Center for Financial Markets and Policy executive director John L. Jacobs, who offered his take on the review: “They’re trying to understand the whole ecosystem. “They’re still wrestling with how to make sure that this an organized efficient marketplace.”
Regulators have been struggling to better understand the cryptocurrency industry, and the lack of common standards for dealing with crypto assets has made that challenge even more difficult. Since no Wall Street banking institutions are currently involved in crypto trading, smaller brokerage firms have reportedly been used for token deals. To further complicate matters, brokerage companies have apparently not adopted a consistent standard for reporting involvement with digital tokens or ICOs.
The SEC’s broader goals for the current examination of brokerage practices were outlined in a February report from OCIE:
“The cryptocurrency and ICO markets have grown rapidly and present a number of risks for retail investors. Areas of focus will include, among other things, whether financial professionals maintain adequate controls and safeguards to protect these assets from theft or misappropriation.”