As the cryptocurrency sector continues to grow, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler remains resolute in his stance on crypto regulation. Ahead of his testimony on Capitol Hill this Tuesday, Gensler’s written remarks indicate he sees the current landscape as akin to the 1920s before federal securities laws came into being.
Gensler stated, “Given this industry’s wide-ranging non-compliance with the securities laws, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen many problems.” He has consistently asserted that existing US securities laws do not require revision to incorporate cryptocurrencies. Moreover, he believes “the vast majority of crypto tokens likely meet the investment contract test,” referring to the Howey Test used to classify securities.
During a previous interview with Intelligencer, Gensler clarified that, in his view, “everything but Bitcoin” falls under the classification of security. However, when pressed about Ethereum’s classification as either a security or a commodity, Gensler evaded giving a definitive answer. This distinction is crucial because it delineates regulatory oversight either under the SEC or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Significantly, the SEC has faced challenges in the legal arena recently. A New York court ruled against the agency in a case involving the sale of XRP, stating that certain sales did not amount to the sale of unregistered securities. Additionally, the SEC faced a setback in a lawsuit with Grayscale; a court labelled the agency’s prior refusal to convert Grayscale’s $15.6 billion Bitcoin trust into a spot Bitcoin ETF as “capricious.”
Why does this matter? The SEC’s approach to cryptocurrency regulation can have far-reaching consequences for the sector. Gensler’s unwavering stance sends a clear message to industry stakeholders that compliance with existing securities laws is non-negotiable. Consequently, companies operating in this space must tread carefully, especially given the SEC’s recent legal setbacks.
Therefore, as the regulatory framework around cryptocurrencies remains under scrutiny, all eyes will be on Gensler’s Capitol Hill testimony. His words could offer deeper insights into how the SEC plans to navigate this complex, rapidly evolving financial landscape.