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  • J McGlynn and M Bacina

SEC Chair confirms BTC is a commodity but infers ETH is a security

Updated: May 3

In a recent interview with CNBC, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler confirmed his view that Bitcoin is a commodity, while the majority of remaining cryptocurrencies are securities.

Speaking to television anchor and finance expert Jim Cramer on the future of crypto regulation, the Chairman was strident in his view that it is the characteristics of crypto assets which make them securities and subject to the SEC's jurisdiction.

He said:

Many of these crypto financial assets have the characteristics of securities...the investing public is hoping for a return, just like when they invest in other financial assets we call securities.

This is not the first time that Gensler has characterised most crypto-assets as securities. What was new was not what he said, but rather what he implied from what he left unsaid.

In describing the current state of US crypto regulation, Gensler identified the

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the SEC as the two entities who are responsible for the protection of participants in the market.

He reiterated:

Many of these fin assets have key attributes of a security...some of them under the SEC and some, like bitcoin - and that's the only one I will say, are a commodity under the exchange commission...

If Gensler's omission and or failure to acknowledge Eth, the native token of the second largest blockchain, Ethereum, as a commodity was intended to imply his position that that token is not a commodity, then this would put him strictly at odds with the CTFC who defined the token as a commodity in 2015.

We anticipate this will not be Chairman Gensler's last comments on this topic, as regulators around the globe continue to grapple with whether and how to regulate a wide variety of crypto-assets.


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