July 8, 2019 / 8:51 PM / 16 days ago

U.S. market regulator issues guidance on custody of digital asset securities

WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday issued a notice on broker-dealer custody of digital asset securities, amid industry requests for clarity on whether they can hold such assets under federal securities laws.

The SEC’s statement, issued in conjunction with the general counsel of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), clarified that entities seeking to participate in the marketplace for digital asset securities must comply with the relevant securities laws, most notably the customer protection rule.

“The requirements of the Customer Protection Rule have produced a nearly fifty year track record of recovery for investors when their broker-dealers have failed,” the SEC said in a statement.

“This record of protecting customer assets held in custody by broker-dealers stands in contrast to recent reports of cybertheft, and underscores the need to ensure broker-dealers robust protection of customer assets, including digital asset securities,” it added.

Monday’s statement follows queries from market participants over whether federal laws apply to the custody of digital asset securities, such as crypto currencies. It could potentially pave the way for more traditional investors to hold digital asset securities.

While various firms already registered as broker-dealers are seeking to expand their businesses to include digital asset securities services, the SEC says non-registered firms would likely have to register as a broker-dealer before engage in this activity. (Reporting by Katanga Johnson Editing by Susan Thomas)

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