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Regulatory Ambiguity Surrounding Digital Assets Persists – Regulations Weekly

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Loss of an Ally?

Within the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) holds massive power over the future of digital assets.  As such, it is vital that its Commissioners view the sector in a positive light.  Among its current ranks, two names are typically viewed as fitting the bill – Commissioner Hester Peirce and Commissioner Elad Roisman.  Each Commissioner Peirce and Roisman have penned letters of dissent in the past, highlighting what they believe was inadequately clear regulations being forced upon companies involved with digital assets.

In a potentially worrisome move, Commissioner Roisman just announced his pending resignation – meaning that the digital assets sector potentially lost an influential advocate.

Commissioner Roisman states, “Today, I sent a letter to President Biden, informing him that I intend to resign my position by the end of January. Serving the American people as a Commissioner and an Acting Chairman of this agency has been the greatest privilege of my professional life. It has been the utmost honor to work alongside my extraordinary SEC colleagues, who care deeply about investors and our markets. Over the next several weeks, I remain committed to working with my fellow Commissioners and the SEC’s incredible staff to further our mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation.”

Moving forward, all eyes will be on the SEC as it looks to fill the now vacant role.  Will the regulator appoint a friend or foe of digital assets?

Regulatory Ambiguity

For those that think the regulatory landscape surrounding digital assets in the United States is confusing, just look to Russia.  As recently as December 17th, Governor Elvira Nabiullina of the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) was issuing commentary on digital assets, indicating that it ‘cannot welcome investments in such kinds of assets’ and that it advocates for the Russian financial infrastructure to ‘not be used for transactions with cryptocurrency’.

This commentary, which strengthened the validity of reports by Reuters of a potential blanket-ban on digital assets in Russia, apparently comes with caveats which soften the potential blow to enthusiasts.  Namely, citizens of Russia will only be restricted from acquiring digital assets through ‘domestic infrastructure and intermediaries’.  While now limited to foreign investments only, this clarification shared by Deputy Governor Vladimir Chistyukhin or the CBR means, crucially, that ownership of digital assets will remain legal.

This confusing ambiguity appears poised to be short-lived however, as Chistyukhin indicated forthcoming legislative amendments, in addition to a full report on the government’s stance towards digital assets.

India Kicks the Can

Over the past month, there have been various events which continue to fuel FUD surrounding digital assets.  These include Evergrande, the Omicron variant, stimulus withdrawal, a potential ban in India, and more.  While most of these issues still linger, it would seem as though fears of a ban in India are unnecessary for the time being, as the bill proposing such an action did not appear to make the cut for discussion in Indian parliaments winter session.

It is important to remember that discussion of this bill is most likely just delayed, rather than staved off completely.  Ideally, by the time the bill is considered, an alternate legal framework will have been drafted for consideration as well.  Recent reports indicate that this may indeed be the case, with regulation leaning towards treating digital assets as commodities, rather than an outright ban.

Joshua Stoner is a multi-faceted working professional. He has a great interest in the revolutionary 'blockchain' technology. In addition to this, he is a licenced Paramedic in Nova Scotia, Canada. As such, he can provide emergency care/medicine to any situation necessitating it.

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