Firms With Custody Services Must Add Crypto Assets as Liabilities: US SEC


  • SEC publishes a notice saying that companies holding crypto must add the asset class as a liability on balance sheets.
  • The rule will come into effect later this year.
  • The U.S. SEC is currently reviewing the crypto market and will impose more regulation.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published a notice saying that firms in the country that provide custody services should account for crypto assets as a liability. Published on March 31, the notice states that the actions must include,

“securing the crypto-assets and the associated cryptographic key information and protecting them from loss, theft, or other misuse.”

The SEC says that holding the technological means which dictate how crypto is issued, held, and transferred, pose a significantly increased risk for companies. In combination with legal uncertainties, these can also lead to a risk of financial loss, it says. As such, the SEC staff believes that the U.S. first should present them as a liability on their balance sheets “to reflect its obligation to safeguard the crypto-assets held for its platform users.”

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Specifically, the SEC believes that the financial statements should include clear disclosure of the amount and nature of crypto assets that companies hold. It calls for separate disclosures of each significant crypto asset. They should also reveal who holds cryptographic key information and who maintains the internal record-keeping of those assets.

The guidance will apply to financial statements covering the first interim or annual period ending after June 15, 2022. Retrospective applications from the beginning of the fiscal year will also apply.

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The notice comes at a time when the U.S. is keen on applying laws to a market that is quickly growing in adoption. This will likely be the first of many new rules, and investors will have to contend with both good and bad developments.

SEC Steadily Working on Crypto Rules and Regulation

The SEC has been adamant about investor protection for some time now and has taken action to that end. SEC Chair Gary Gensler has repeatedly said that the market must focus on this and that the body would form an agenda to ensure tighter regulation is in place.

While the guidance about adding crypto assets as a liability is a comparatively small step, it points towards the larger agenda that the financial body is working on. The SEC is ensuring that no stone is left unturned as it works with other government agencies to enforce compliance on the market.

The SEC’s sentiment is similar to that of authorities across the world. Most governments and their agencies are willing to allow cryptocurrencies so long as there is regulation. What concerns governments most is the adherence to AML laws, taxation, and energy consumption.




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