Digital Assets Classification Aimed at Investor Protection, Says SEC

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By Ndubuisi Francis

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has explained that the recently-released statement on digital assets and their classification and treatment is aimed at boosting investor protection in the capital market.

The move is to ensure that digital assets offerings, including Crypto currencies operate in a manner consistent with investor protection, interest of the public, market integrity and transparency.

In an interview, Head, Registration, Exchanges, Market Infrastructure and Innovation, Emomotimi Agama, who spoke on the guidelines said: “The first thing the SEC bothers about is investor protection.

“This is no different from what we have been doing. We are looking at investor protection, integrity, transparency and of course we want to make sure that the market is safe and everyone is comfortable with what is going on in the investment climate.”

Agama noted that last year, the commission launched the Fintech Road map, adding that after this was done, it went ahead to set up the block chain virtual financial assets committee.

He said: “These committees are both market wide and principally done to engage the market, to be able to have discussions with the market and get their buy-in into what we are doing.

“What we found out today is that a lot of persons, youths are all involved in this space and it is important that even as far as that is the case, the SEC lives up to the expectations and making sure that those people that are getting into the business are protected.

“Clearly, that is our aim and the market is part of this and indeed the feedback has been wonderful. People are happy with what we are doing, being able to provide some clarity as to where we stand in terms of digital assets regulation.

“Digital assets is the next thing, our idea is not to stifle innovation, but to promote innovation within a reasonable space and that is exactly what we are doing. Section 13 of the ISA empowers us to do this and so we are doing what we have been empowered to do by law.”

On what internal capacities the SEC is developing to meet the challenges of this fast changing digital financial world, Agama said: “The SEC is a knowledge based institution and before we come up with this kind of initiatives, we would have done so much research.”

He disclosed that the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance has been partnering with the SEC, adding that up to this point, the commission has been engaging with them with several of its staff being part of their programmes.

“The World Bank and other institutions are also working with us on Fintech to see that the Nigerian landscape is not left barren but guided with basic principles, we will not leave any stone unturned, but ensure that everyone within the SEC that has the responsibility to guiding investors and the populace in making sure we have an investment environment that people will be proud of is provided.

“Capacity building is a continuous exercise, we will continue to upgrade ourselves, we will continue to learn because knowledge is for life,” he added.