Crypto Rating Council

Leading crypto financial services firms committed to practical compliance with the U.S. securities laws.

About Us

01
Who We Are
02
Why We Started the CRC
03
Our Securities Rating Framework
01 - Who We Are

The Crypto Rating Council is a diverse group of leading crypto financial services firms committed to the responsible growth and maturation of cryptocurrency markets and related financial infrastructure and trading services. Our members share a belief that practical compliance tools can help cryptocurrency exchanges, custodians, trading desks, investment firms, and other financial services providers support the growth and adoption of this important asset class and related blockchain technologies in the U.S. and around the world.

02 - Why We Started the CRC

We formed the Crypto Rating Council to create a framework to consistently and objectively assess whether any given crypto asset has characteristics that make it more or less likely to be classified  as a security under the U.S. federal securities laws. 

The important question of whether any given digital asset is a security—as opposed to a commodity, a currency, or something else—informs critical licensing, registration, and operating obligations for financial services firms that support cryptocurrency. The U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission has issued guidance that some crypto assets may be securities while others may not be. While the SEC’s guidance has been helpful in alerting the industry to complex legal issues, determining whether any particular token is a security remains highly circumstantial and difficult to resolve even with the help of leading legal and technical experts. This complexity has led to expensive, redundant, and frequently inconsistent compliance analysis among financial services firms and has generally slowed the launch of new cryptocurrency assets in the U.S.

Our securities law framework for cryptocurrency makes it easier for members to apply the law consistently and efficiently across many assets.

03 - Our Rating Framework

At the core of the Crypto Rating Council is our securities rating framework, a points-based rating system built upon a set of factual questions that assess each element of the legal test to determine whether an asset is a security. Our framework is derived directly from case law and SEC guidance and has been structured to emphasize objective, repeatable, and fact-driven responses that can be answered more consistently across different assets and across the same asset over time.

The analytical framework results in a score between 1 and 5 for each asset we review. A score of 1 means the Council’s analysis suggests the asset has few or no characteristics consistent with treatment as a security under the U.S. federal securities laws. A score of 5 means the Council’s analysis suggests that an asset has many characteristics strongly consistent with treatment as a security. The CRC will generally publish the results of our analysis to encourage a common dialogue, vocabulary, and understanding of the federal securities laws as applied in practice. To see the scores of the assets we’ve rated,
visit our asset ratings page.

Our Members

The following companies, spanning digital asset trading platforms, custodians, trading firms, and more, are founding members of the Crypto Rating Council:

"

The formation of the CRC shows how rapidly the crypto industry is maturing. I am excited to see to see this level of collaboration from leading companies, all in service of regulatory compliance. Anchorage is proud to be an early member.

Katie Biber
Anchorage General Counsel

"

As the largest digital currency asset manager, we look forward to helping further educate regulators and policy makers through our role on the CRC. While we respect the attention regulators have given to the space and recognize the progress that’s been made over the last decade, additional clarity on how digital assets are treated will be an important step forward for this asset class.

Craig Salm
Grayscale Investments Director, Legal

"

The work of the Council helps guide digital currency market-makers amidst the current uncertainty around asset classification. Genesis is pleased to support the creation of a collaborative scoring framework alongside some of the most reputable companies in the industry.

Arianna Pretto-Sakmann
Genesis General Counsel

"

The Crypto Rating Council has developed an objective and repeatable framework to make it easier to consistently apply the United States Securities laws to any particular token. Kraken is pleased to have been able to work with our peers in the industry to strengthen U.S. innovation by enhancing legal clarity.

Mary Beth Buchanan
Kraken General Counsel

"

Coinbase is proud to bring together many of the largest and most credible companies in the cryptoeconomy to implement the first industrywide crypto rating system.  Like the Motion Picture Association's system for rating movies, this new system will provide clarity and a common language for assessing important aspects of individual cryptoassets—in this case, securities law compliance.

Brian Brooks
Coinbase Chief Legal Officer

"

The Crypto Rating Council represents an important step in the evolution of this transformative technology in the US, and Circle is proud to be a part of it.  US competitiveness in crypto—and the economic benefits it promises—depends on clearing up uncertainty about digital assets, and the Council's efforts to provide clarity should be welcomed by industry participants, innovators, lawmakers and regulators alike.

Gus Coldebella
Circle Chief Legal Officer

"

In order for the crypto industry to thrive in the US we need a clear regulatory environment. Until that time, we’re pleased that industry is collaborating closely on the Crypto Rating Council, giving entrepreneurs and investors the tools to understand the appropriate, current regulatory regime.

Kristin Smith
Director of the Blockchain Association

"

The Crypto Rating Council’s mission of operationalizing SEC guidance is one that deeply resonates with Bittrex, and me. Today’s regulatory complexity and uncertainty creates a challenging environment for emerging US blockchain technologies. By uniting as a Council to set industry standards and help clarify regulatory guidance, we can reinvigorate responsible blockchain and cryptocurrency growth in the US.

Bill Shihara
CEO and Co-Founder of Bittrex

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Crypto Rating Council?

The Crypto Rating Council (CRC) is a member-owned and operated organization whose purpose is to assess whether any given crypto asset, or whether the development, issuance, and use of such asset have characteristics that make it more or less likely to implicate the U.S. federal securities laws. The CRC will publish a simple rating for most assets it reviews to indicate the results of its analysis as a reference for operators, developers, and the public.

Why Create the Crypto Rating Council?

The question of whether a crypto asset is a security—as opposed to a currency, a commodity, or something else—may trigger registration, licensing, and other operating obligations for financial services firms that offer digital asset services like exchange, investment management, and trading. Under federal U.S. law, this important question is generally answered by applying the four-factor Howey test, which requires painstaking “facts and circumstances” analysis which often leads to judgment calls, inconsistent results, and can lead to disagreement among legal experts (and government officials). The founding members formed the CRC to create a compliance tool which, in partnership with securities law experts, allows the members to consistently review assets supported in the ordinary course of their respective businesses.

What is the Council’s Rating Framework?

At the core of the Council’s work is a points-based rating system centered around a set of factual questions. Working with legal and technical experts and members of the community, the CRC distilled a set of yes or no questions which are designed to plainly address each of the four, Howey test factors: (i) whether crypto purchasers invested money, (ii) in a “common enterprise”, (iii) with a reasonable expectation of profit, (iv) based on the efforts of others. The questions are tailored to assess the characteristics most likely to impact any given crypto asset’s treatment under the securities laws. These characteristics include circumstances of the asset’s issuance, governance features, third-party contributions to the project, and practical use of the asset by the general public. The questions are also structured to allow for objective, repeatable, and fact-driven responses that can be answered consistently across different assets and across the same asset over time.

What Does the Rating Mean?

Each question in the framework is assigned a points-based weighting to reflect its relative importance, the sum of which create scores for each Howey factor. Those scores are then scaled into a final rating between 1 and 5. A score of 5 results when an asset appears to have many characteristics that are consistent with the Howey-test factors. It is probably more likely, relative to lower-scored assets, to implicate the U.S. securities laws. A score of 1 results when an asset appears to have few characteristics that are consistent with the Howey-test factors. It is probably less likely, relative to higher-scored assets, to implicate the U.S. securities laws.

How Does the Council Use the Framework in Practice?

Members periodically select a set of assets for review. Outside counsel, with assistance from technical experts, then performs a comprehensive factual review of each asset. This review includes a study of the history of the asset, developer team materials including whitepapers, websites, and social media, asset issuance history, codebase contributions, functionality of the asset and related blockchain, and other factors. Counsel then generates a summary memo and uses the framework to produce a score. Members’ respective legal teams and technical experts then vote to adopt or revise the score, after which it may be published to the Council’s website. Members are each left to their own discretion to decide whether to support or trade an asset and no member is responsible for any other member’s subsequent decisions or operations.