SEC Commissioner Proposes Cross-border Sandbox for U.S. and U.K. Crypto Industries

Hester M. Peirce suggests a collaborative effort toward building out a regulatory framework.

By: Pedro Solimano Loading...

US and UK flags against a dark background

A top official from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has commended a joint regulatory framework proposal by two of the leading financial authorities in the U.K. and proposes a joint effort between the countries.

Commissioner Hester M. Peirce issued a statement on May 29 suggesting a cross-border sandbox for crypto companies operating in the U.S. and U.K. Pierce noted that this is her personal view, not necessarily shared by the agency as a whole or other commissioners.

“The proposed cross-border sandbox would allow firms to conduct the same sandbox activities under the same regulatory requirements in both the United Kingdom and the United States,” wrote Peirce. “Together with a Commission-enacted micro-innovation sandbox and an information sharing agreement between our two jurisdictions, the expanded eligibility would foster cross-border innovation.”

Her letter is in response to a Digital Securities Sandbox (DSS) that the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) are trying to create – for which several consultation papers have been published.

Peirce’s proposal is a lofty one, considering the SEC’s continual attack on the crypto industry. And the U.K. has also been quick to shut down crypto services, and blanket sanction all sorts of activities related to the digital asset space.

That being said, her letter is cause for optimism.

It shows that even within a clearly aggressive SEC, there are dissenting voices against the “regulation by enforcement” approach. In fact, Peirce and her fellow commissioner, Mark Uyeda, have already pushed back against the agency’s position on crypto.

Creating such a cross-border sandbox would be the first of its kind, which considering the size and influence of both U.S. and U.K. markets, could serve as an example to other regions.

The commissioner also revealed that she tends to be “more of a beach than a sandbox regulator” and outlined a number of points that would be part of her micro-innovation sandbox. These include the requirements set forth by the SEC for firms to begin operating in the country, including allowing participants to choose their regulatory conditions, the duration and exit of a firm, and eligibility requirements.

Peirce wrote that a sandbox can provide a viable path for smaller, disruptive firms to enter highly regulated markets to compete with larger incumbent firms. According to one report, firms that entered the FCA’s sandbox raised 15% more capital, are 50% more likely to raise capital, and are 25% more likely to survive years later.