On May 6, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an order that required equity exchanges and FINRA to submit a new National Market System (“NMS”) plan with a modernized governance structure for the production of public consolidated equity market data and the dissemination of trade and quote data. As explained in its order, the SEC hopes that a consolidation of equity market data systems will help to eliminate duplicative systems and reduce lags in data dissemination as well as data inaccuracies.
Continue Reading SEC Orders Equity Exchanges and FINRA to Modernize Consolidated Market Data

On May 4, 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) approved MEMX LLC (“MEMX”), standing for “Members Exchange,” as a new national securities exchange under Section 6 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. According to the MEMX website, the investors in MEMX include global financial institutions, comprised of online retail broker-dealers, global banks and financial services firms, and global market makers. MEMX will operate a fully automated electronic order book, and will not operate a physical trading floor. Similar to other national securities exchanges, only broker-dealer members of MEMX and entities that enter into market access arrangements with members will have access to the MEMX system. As a national securities exchange, MEMX will be a self-regulatory organization and will be responsible for oversight of its members.

Continue Reading SEC Approves MEMX as a new National Securities Exchange

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial markets have experienced significant volatility. During the course of this volatility, exchanges have halted trading multiple times after declines in trading trigged circuit breakers. In addition, trading floors are transitioning to electronic trading in efforts to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 on physical trading floors. With the recent turmoil, this post provides a high-level summary of the various types of circuit breakers and what can be expected.
Continue Reading Understanding Circuit Breakers, Our New Reality, in the Time of COVID-19

This post continues my recap of where things stand regarding the treatment of tokens, coins, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets under the federal securities laws. My prior post discussed actions and statements made by the SEC in 2017. This post reviews significant enforcement actions and statements this year prior to the recent Coburn enforcement action.
Continue Reading 2018 Recap: Tokens, Coins, Cryptocurrencies, and Other Digital Assets under the Federal Securities Laws

The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) recent action against a digital trading platform illustrates the continued uncertainty surrounding the treatment of tokens, coins, cryptocurrencies, and other digital assets under the federal securities laws. Senior SEC officials have expressed concern that a significant amount of activity in this industry may not comply with federal securities laws and increasing SEC enforcement activity evinces these concerns. This set of posts offers a recap of the SEC’s previous enforcement actions and statements, providing a reminder to market participants that there is not yet any formal, comprehensive guidance on the reach of federal securities laws in this area. As a result, whether the SEC or a court determines that a particular token, coin, cryptocurrency or digital asset is a security remains a case-by-case, facts and circumstances analysis.

Continue Reading 2017 Recap: Tokens, Coins, Cryptocurrencies, and Other Digital Assets under the Federal Securities Laws – Facts and Circumstances

On November 8, the SEC announced an enforcement action charging the founder of a digital “token” trading platform for operating as an unregistered national securities exchange. The SEC has previously brought enforcement actions relating to unregistered broker-dealers and unregistered ICOs, including some of the tokens traded on EtherDelta. Stephanie Avakian, Co-Director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, commented that “EtherDelta had both the user interface and underlying functionality of an online national securities exchange and was required to register with the SEC or qualify for an exemption.”

Continue Reading EtherDelta Founder Sanctioned for Operating an Unregistered Securities Exchange