Canadian Self-Regulatory Agency Approves First Crypto-Native Investment Dealer

Toronto-based crypto exchange Coinsquare became a member of Canada’s top self-regulatory organization (SRO) – the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) – on Thursday, making it the first crypto-native platform to join that body.

In addition to granting Coinsquare membership, IIROC also greenlit the exchange’s investment dealer registration and gave approval to operate as a regulated alternative trading system (ATS) in the future.

Though Coinsquare is the first exchange to join IIROC, it is unlikely to be the last. In March 2021, the Canadian Securities Administrators issued a public notice informing crypto exchanges they needed to register with a securities regulator if they wanted to keep serving Canadian customers, triggering a rush to comply with regulatory requirements.

Coinsquare, however, began the long process of becoming an IIROC member before it was compelled to do so. Katriana Prokopy, Coinsquare’s chief legal officer and head of regulatory affairs, told CoinDesk the exchange began pursuing regulatory approval two years ago.

As a member of IIROC, Coinsquare will undergo rigorous audits and oversight to ensure it remains in compliance with regulatory requirements – something Prokopy said could be a comfort to investors, especially in the wake of high-profile collapses of crypto exchanges, including Celsius Network.

“Becoming an IIROC dealer and member of IIROC, it gives clients the security that they’re dealing with an intermediary, a securities dealer, with all the sorts of protections and oversight that they’re familiar with when they trade traditional assets,” Prokopy said. “And, heretofore, that has not been the case.”

There is, however, one important bit of coverage Coinsquare’s clients won’t get through its IIROC membership – protection of their crypto assets from the exchange’s potential insolvency.

Members of IIROC automatically become members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund, which offers limited protection for property held by a member fund on behalf of investors if the member becomes insolvent. However, in Coinsquare’s case, CIPF will only apply to fiat held in customer’s accounts in case Coinsquare goes in the way of Celsius.

Prokopy said she hopes CIPF’s coverage will eventually change to include crypto.

“Like the regulatory framework generally, CIPF coverage is evolving. In time, we hope to push the envelope on that and be part of the conversation in which [CIPF] evolves to cover crypto assets as well,” Prokopy said. “But that is not the case today from a CIPF perspective.”