SEC Pulls ‘Digital Assets’ Definition From Final Ruling

In a final ruling published Wednesday solidifying changes made to the agency’s Form PF, the SEC left “digital assets” out of the glossary


K.unshu/Shutterstock, modified by Blockworks


After nine months, the US SEC is still mulling over its proposed definition of “digital assets.” 

In a final ruling published Wednesday solidifying changes made to the agency’s Form PF (a regulatory filing requirement for private funds), the SEC said it would not yet be tackling how to distinguish digital assets. 

“The Commission and staff are continuing to consider this term and are not adopting ‘digital assets’ as part of this rule at this time,” Wednesday’s rule states. 

The original proposal from 2022 defined “the term “digital asset” as an asset that is issued and/or transferred using distributed ledger or blockchain technology (“distributed ledger technology”), including, but not limited to, so-called ‘virtual currencies,’ ‘coins,’ and ‘tokens,’” attorneys from Willkie Farr & Gallagher wrote in a 2022 statement.

“When you look at the definition that the SEC had proposed originally, it was so broad anything on a blockchain constituted a digital asset,” Lee Scheider, general counsel at Ava Labs said. “That doesn’t make sense, that’s not the SEC’s jurisdiction.”

Notably, in the proposed amendments, the SEC opted to view “digital assets” as being synonymous with “crypto assets,” attorneys noted.

The recent collapse of several banks and regulators’ speculation about the crypto industry’s role may have pushed the SEC to hold off on any formal definitions for now, Andrew Durgee, head of Republic Crypto, said. 

“The problem is once [the SEC] does something, it’s very hard to unwind it,” Durgee said. 

The proposed definition for digital assets was very vague, Durgee added, noting that the agency will likely “take a deeper dive” and create a more detailed approach to regulating how funds interact with crypto. 

In August 2022, Gary Gensler’s agency first proposed adding ‘digital assets’ to Form PF’s glossary, which currently includes phrases such as “large private fund advisers” and “borrowings.”

The new Form PF increases reporting requirements for large private equity funds advisers “to provide additional information to the SEC about the private equity funds they advise.” 

“Today’s amendments to Form PF will enhance visibility into private funds and help protect investors and promote financial stability,” Gensler said in a Tweet Wednesday.

The ruling comes as industry members continue to express frustration around the agency’s enforcement approach and reluctance to provide clarity around the status of the assets in question — whatever they’re called.

Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.


Upcoming Events

Hilton Metropole | 225 Edgware Rd, London

Mon - Wed, March 18 - 20, 2024

Crypto’s premier institutional conference returns to London in March 2024. The DAS: London Experience: Attend expert-led panel discussions and fireside chats Hear the latest developments regarding the crypto and digital asset regulatory environment directly from policymakers and experts.

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research report - cover graphics (1).jpg


In this report, we dive into crypto private market data to gather insights on where the future of the industry is headed. Despite a notable downturn in private raises, capital continues to infuse promising projects that aim to transform payments, banking, consumer experiences, community, and more, with 2023 being the fourth-largest year for crypto venture capital.


Ethereum Dencun will enable Ethereum transactions to be submitted as blobs, potentially alleviating the costs of posting data on the blockchain


After a rocky start, bitcoin ETF shareholders are now well in the green


Revolut said that the standalone crypto exchange is currently “invite only”


The stock price jump comes after Coinbase reported ending its seven-quarter run of net losses during the fourth quarter


BUZZ holds shares of Coinbase, Robinhood and MicroStrategy


Opinion: Even though I didn’t pay for my “Diamond Hands” burger with BTC, don’t let that fool you into thinking that crypto’s development is futile