Dec 1, 2023 - Economy

New York financial regulator Adrienne Harris on crypto authority: "I take that very seriously"

NYDFS superintendent Adrienne Harris during a Senate committee hearing in May. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

New York Department of Financial Services superintendent Adrienne Harris could eventually eclipse SEC chair Gary Gensler as the most influential crypto regulator.

Why it matters: Whereas Gensler's regulation-by-enforcement strategy leads to largely one-off cases, Harris has used her authority to remake how crypto rules work in New York — an example for other states like Illinois and California, but also federal regulators.

Zoom in: Harris, who was named superintendent in August 2021 and confirmed by the State Senate in 2022, took a three-person crypto unit and expanded it to one larger than an NFL football roster.

What she's saying: "We're over 60 people, the largest crypto unit probably anywhere in the world," she said Thursday at a policy summit in D.C. hosted by the Blockchain Association, a crypto industry trade group.

  • "We're the only prudential regulator with crypto-specific authority, and I take that very seriously," she said.
  • Harris said she intends to continue growing the team, "marching down the field" to tighten crypto regulation in the state.

Details: So far DFS has issued eight pieces of crypto regulatory guidance that touch on stablecoins, market manipulation and blockchain analytics, among other things.

  • Harris explained the rewriting as common sense, saying there's a difference between "having rules on the books" and "rules on the books that are operational."

Flashback: Most recently, DFS changed coin listing rules, requiring firms under New York's BitLicense regime to have robust processes to self-certify their listings, instead of submitting each token listing for approval.

  • It also added a delisting requirement, which Harris said came out of experience with Binance's namesake stablecoin BUSD.
  • Harris also pointed to the state's efforts to crack down on the crypto exchange's stablecoin before various regulatory agencies did. She said: "It's nice others are taking action there."

The bottom line: When asked about her views of federal oversight over stablecoins and where New York fits in that regime, she said: "For us, my goal is to be an honest broker. Nothing we do at DFS is partisan, it's not about choosing sides."

Go deeper: Binance looms large at blockchain trade group D.C. policy summit

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