Crypto exchange Bittrex is teaming up with licensed broker-dealer Rialto Trading to launch a new digital securities trading platform, pending approval from the relevant US authorities. Rialto Trading is an Alternative Trading System (ATS) that already offers fixed income securities, and once approval is granted it will begin offering crypto securities with the help of Bittrex’s expertise.
The CEO of Bittrex, Bill Shihara, says, “We’re merging Bittrex’s technology, cybersecurity and blockchain expertise with Rialto’s deep knowledge of the securities industry. And, when you add that foundation with Rialto’s extensive background in financial services, including Shari’s experience at Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, this new venture is well-positioned to further advance blockchain’s adoption by offering a comprehensive solution at the right time.”
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) declared in 2018 that most initial coin offering (ICO) related cryptocurrencies were securities. The essence of the SEC’s new classification system is if investors buy a cryptocurrency and expect profits, and profits from that cryptocurrency go to a centralized organization, then that cryptocurrency is a security. Sufficiently decentralized cryptos like Bitcoin and Ethereum are not going to be considered securities, and so far the SEC has only given traders the green light to trade these without following securities laws. Exchanges must work with the SEC to offer trading for most other cryptos. Additionally, ICOs that don’t go through the SEC are illegal.
This is major news for Bittrex, the 37th largest exchange in the world according to CoinMarketCap with trading volume near USD 30 million per day as of 24 August 2018. Bittrex has been a popular exchange since the early days, and if this partnership with Rialto Trading is successful they will soon be able to offer most crypto without worrying about breaching securities laws.
Being able to offer legal securities trading will give Bittrex a major competitive edge over other exchanges that offer services to US citizens. Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange headquartered in the United States, is also making efforts to start offering securities trading via obtaining a broker-dealer license. Instead of partnering with a broker-dealer like Bittrex is, Coinbase is outright buying two firms with broker-dealer licenses, Keystone Capital and Venovate Marketplace.
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