SEC Commissioner Advocates ‘Gamifying’ Relations With Investors

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In Brief
  • SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce says the regulator should ‘gamify’ its communications with investors.

  • Her comments come in light of SEC Chair Gary Gensler push to regulate cryptocurrencies more strictly.

  • She fears this could stifle innovation, also as it relates to retail stock trading platforms.

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US Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce says the SEC should ‘gamify’ its communications with investors.

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Peirce’s comments come in light of SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s stated intentions to regulate cryptocurrencies more strictly. Peirce is fearful that this would stifle innovation, which would also extend to stock trading platforms that “gamify” investing. However, she feels that the SEC would benefit from utilizing some of these features with investors.

SEC’s crypto crackdown

During a recent testimony in front of the US House of Representatives, SEC Chair Gary Gensler said “there are many challenges and gaps for investor protection in markets.” His further comments made it clear he intends to regulate cryptocurrencies more strictly.

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For instance, he spoke of providing crypto investors with similar protections they would have on the New York Stock Exchange.

For her part, Peirce feels that this approach is a bit misguided. “I am concerned that the initial reaction of a regulator is always to say ‘I want to grab hold of this and make it like the markets I already regulate’,” Peirce said “I am not sure that’s going to be great for innovation.”

Peirce seems to appreciate some of the distinct qualities of crypto trading, adding she was “concerned about trying to make it harder for people to do truly peer-to-peer transactions.” 

Peirce has previously been at odds with the SEC’s approach to cryptocurrencies. While the SEC has yet to approve a single Bitcoin ETF, the SEC Commissioner feels it is way past due. By not doing so, the SEC is depriving interested investors from accessing exposure to cryptocurrencies in a safer, regulated way.

Gamification appreciation

Peirce is also concerned that these regulations would also have implications for retail stock trading platforms as well. Apps such as Robinhood have come under scrutiny for contributing to wild market fluctuations like the GameStop craze.

Some feel they are also irresponsible for using game-like features such as competitions, rewards and leaderboards, to encourage usage.

However, Peirce sees these qualities as innovative, in encouraging more people to invest in capital markets. In fact, she praises them for “making financial platforms more user-friendly,” adding they should feel similar to other platforms people commonly use.

In helping it to spread financial literacy and awareness, Peirce feels that the SEC could benefit from using these features. “We need to gamify our communications with investors,” she said. “We need to meet them where they are.”

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Nick is a data scientist who teaches economics and communication in Budapest, Hungary, where he received a BA in Political Science and Economics and an MSc in Business Analytics from CEU. He has been writing about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology since 2018, and is intrigued by its potential economic and political usage. He can best be described as an optimistic center-left skeptic.

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