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April 2, 2022

SEC Staff Accounting Bulletin for Cryptocurrency Exchanges and Custodians

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a staff accounting bulletin informing exchanges to book cryptocurrencies on their balance sheets as their own liabilities and assets. The new rule taking effect in June will require exchanges to “disclose the nature and amount of crypto assets held for customers in their company accounts.” (Business Insider)

This SEC statement applies to exchanges that “safeguard the platform user’s crypto-asset(s) and also maintain the cryptographic key information necessary to access the crypto-asset,” as opposed to scenarios in which the exchange permits a user to self-custody digital assets. Users who choose to self-custody own and safeguard their own private keys. See EO 6102 to learn more about the importance of self-custody. (EO 6102)

The agency justified its requirements by highlighting the “unique risks and uncertainties not present in arrangements to safeguard assets that are not crypto-assets, including technological, legal, and regulatory risks and uncertainties.” (Staff Bulletin)

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