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Cryptocurrency exchanges are under scrutiny—prelude to a crackdown

It’s a tense time indeed for anyone running a platform for trading digital money.

The news: The US Securities and Exchange Commission has concerns about “unlawful online platforms for trading digital assets” that “appear to investors as SEC-registered and regulated marketplaces when they are not.” The agency says exchanges should register with it for the good of consumers.

Why it matters: For the moment, the SEC has little authority to police cryptocurrency markets. But Dina Ellis Rochkind, a lawyer at Paul Hastings in Washington, tells Reuters that the agency’s statement “foreshadows that it will be cracking down on the numerous platforms that are operating illegally and could be subject to market manipulation.”

Plus: In the wake of Tokyo-based Coincheck being robbed of $359 million, Japan is also clamping down on seven exchanges, forcing two of them to shutter. And US financial regulators already subpoenaed Bitfinex, one of the world’s most popular exchanges. Looks like we can expect plenty more action, and soon.

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