Paradigm, a crypto venture capital firm, has criticized the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) attempt to redefine the term “exchange” and bring decentralized exchanges (DEXs) under its regulatory scope. In a detailed 14-page letter sent to the SEC, Paradigm argued that treating DEXs as traditional exchanges is invalid and incoherent.
Differences between DEXs and exchanges
Paradigm emphasized the fundamental distinctions between DEXs and exchanges that make the proposed redefinition inappropriate. DEXs operate differently from traditional exchanges, as they do not act as transaction intermediaries and lack a centralized entity overseeing the exchange. Instead, DEXs utilize automated market maker mechanisms and self-executing code to facilitate the trading of crypto assets.
The letter from Paradigm also raised concerns regarding the SEC’s rulemaking process. It highlighted procedural flaws, including the short comment period and lack of cost-benefit analysis in the initial notice published in March 2022. Although the SEC reopened the comment period in May 2022 and April 2023, Paradigm argued that these attempts did not rectify the original procedural deficiencies. The firm maintained that the SEC’s proposal violated the fair opportunity for public comment required by the Administrative Procedure Act.
Crypto industry impact and regulatory actions
The SEC’s proposed redefinition comes amidst the agency’s recent lawsuits against major crypto exchanges, Binance and Coinbase, for alleged securities violations. Paradigm suggested that the SEC’s regulatory actions against Coinbase and the intensified scrutiny on Binance could ultimately benefit Coinbase by reducing competition in the long run. However, the firm criticized the SEC’s enforcement approach, believing it has negatively affected cryptocurrency innovators in the United States.
While the SEC has designated numerous digital assets as securities over the years, Congress has yet to pass official legislation classifying crypto markets as such. The recent surge in enforcement actions targeting crypto companies following the collapse of FTX reflects the increased scrutiny by the federal regulator.