Many Crypto Assets Are Securities, Says New Head of SEC Gary Gensler


Newly appointed Chair of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Gary Gensler is talking about regulating the nascent crypto sector.

In an interview with CNBC’s Squawk Box, the new Chair, who was sworn in just last month, discusses what he believes the SEC’s role will be in regulating the crypto markets.

Gensler reveals that he considers many crypto assets that are currently on the market as securities, and that he does believe the SEC has license to make that determination.

“I think to the extent something is a security the SEC has a lot of authority and a lot of crypto tokens are indeed securities. The prior chair has indicated that [and] the prior SEC brought numerous enforcement actions to bring some of those security or investment contract tokens into the rules.”

Although Gensler believes that the categorization of many crypto assets needs to be ironed out, the SEC Chair asserts that, most pressingly, investors trading Bitcoin, an asset that the SEC has already determined is not a security, need to be protected.

“There are some [assets] like Bitcoin, if I could just focus on that, and that’s about half of this $2 trillion asset class right now. It’s a digital scarce store of value, but highly volatile and there’s investors that want to trade that and trade that for its volatility.

I think we need greater investor protection there. And we don’t have a federal regime overseeing the crypto exchanges, so if an investor wants to trade Bitcoin, understanding it’s highly volatile, highly speculative… If they want to trade on that, we [need to] have some investor protection in place and that’s what I think is a gap in our system right now.”

Gensler reasons that through a joint effort by the SEC and Congress, the government may be able to find a way to protect those trading the volatile asset.

“I think that as it relates to Bitcoin and I’m not speaking to all the other tokens right now, but as it relates to Bitcoin, while our sister agency the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has limited anti-fraud and anti-manipulation authority, there’s no federal authority to actually bring a regime to the crypto exchanges.

Whether it’s stock exchanges or futures exchanges there are regimes that were put in place in the 1930s to help protect against fraud and manipulation on the exchanges and protect the integrity of that. I think that’s something we’ll be working with Congress, if they see fit, to try to bring some protection for people that want to invest in this speculative asset class.”

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