In a fireside chat at ETHDenver on Thursday evening, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce expressed regret that crypto developers have to dedicate their brainpower to dealing with how to overcome regulatory hurdles. 

“There’s a lot of optimism here and I like hearing people being excited about what they’re building, but it makes me a little sad that a regulator is sitting here right now,” said Peirce, referring to herself. “What I reflect is the fact that you all are spending part of your brainpower thinking about ‘how do I build this in a way that sort of avoids those areas of regulatory ambiguity.’”

Peirce also reiterated her earlier criticisms of the SEC, the agency where she currently serves, highlighting concerns about the lack of clarity regarding securities. The SEC’s approach of regulation through enforcement is “strange,” Peirce said, because “if you really want to sort the bad behavior from the good behavior, having rules that are clear to people who want to follow them is a much better approach.” 

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“I think you don’t go after people who are asking you for rules around how to proceed in the space,” said Peirce, whose pro-crypto stance has earned her the nickname “Crypto Mom.”

The role of the SEC is not to tell people, “Crypto good [or] crypto bad. Let the market decide,” Peirce said. Instead, the SEC’s job is “to figure out where the securities laws are implicated, trying to help people get disclosure on their securities and then let people make their own decisions,” said Peirce. 

Getting to a ‘Better Place’

Peirce said that one of the things that keeps her awake at night is centralization or concentrated risks. Peirce finds the idea of a government imposing a regime where developers must seek permission to write code “terrifying.” Moreover, she voiced concern about the potential expansion of surveillance on the financial activities of Americans, in the context of the potential roll-out of a central bank digital currency.

She further noted that “decentralization actually brings resilience that strengthens the financial system.” 

“My advice is help think through what a good regulatory framework would look like. And I really think that we can get to a better place in the United States,” Peirce said. “It’s taken a lot longer than I or probably you all want, but I do think we can get there if we work together and think about what would make sense.” 

Unchained is a media partner of ETHDenver and will be covering the conference.