- The Biden administration reportedly plans to appoint Gary Gensler as the next head of the SEC
- The SEC is one of the most impactful regulatory agencies for the cryptocurrency space in the U.S.
- The SEC has been active in pursuing legal action against ICO projects, and is yet to approve a Bitcoin ETF application
Gary Gensler will likely be the next head of the SEC
Former CFTC chairman Gary Gensler will be named as the head of the SEC by the upcoming Biden administration, according to a Reuters report.
Gensler is knowledgeable about the cryptocurrency and blockchain space and has commented on the topic in the past. In 2019, he wrote an op-ed for CoinDesk in which he argued that blockchain technology can drive change in the areas of finance and multi-party database management.
In April 2018, Gensler stated that ETH and XRP could probably be classified as securities. While ETH is widely not considered a security in the United States currently, the situation for XRP is quite a bit more complex.
The SEC has arguably been the most impactful U.S. regulatory agency for the cryptocurrency space in recent years. The ICO boom, which reached its peak in 2017, was one of the main drivers of the 2017-2018 cryptocurrency bull run as it presented countless opportunities for speculators. However, many of the token sales held in the period closely resembled securities offerings.
Since then, the SEC has come out with a number of enforcement actions against companies that held ICOs. In some cases, the companies were ordered to refund ICO investors or register their tokens as securities. In December of 2020, the SEC recently came out with what’s likely its most high-profile action to date against a cryptocurrency company, accusing Ripple of conducting an unregistered securities offering.
The SEC has also rejected every proposal it received so far for a Bitcoin ETF to be listed on a United States exchange, citing concerns such as market manipulation risks. It’s unclear how Gensler assuming leadership of the SEC would impact the agency’s stance on a potential Bitcoin ETF product.
Crypto-friendly OCC head Brian Brooks is reportedly leaving his position
With Biden assuming the presidency, there will likely be some major shuffles at top regulatory positions. Trump-appointed Brian Brooks, the current head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), will reportedly be stepping down from his position in the next few days.
Reports about Brooks getting ready to leave his position are notable because he was one of the most crypto-friendly individuals in the U.S. government. Under his leadership, the OCC made several moves that were received positively by the cryptocurrency industry – for example, the OCC published interpretive letters clarifying that U.S. banks are allowed to hold funds on the behalf of stablecoin issuers, and are also allowed to use blockchain networks and stablecoins to conduct payments.
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