April 17, 2021

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SEC Chair Nominee Gary Gensler: Crypto a 'Catalyst for Change'

2 min read

Gary Gensler—President Biden’s nominee for chairman of the SEC—said today in his Senate confirmation hearing that cryptocurrencies “have been a catalyst for change.”

“Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have brought new thinking to payments and financial inclusion, but they’ve also raised new issues of investor protection that we still need to attend to,” Gensler told Senator Mike Rounds. He went on to say that, if confirmed, he’d work to “both promote the new innovation, but also, at the core, ensure for investor protection.”

Gensler, who spent nearly 20 years at Goldman Sachs before pivoting to public sector work, was chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission during the Obama administration. He’s also a professor at MIT, where he teaches a course on blockchain tech and cryptocurrencies.

The SEC has played an important role in regulating cryptocurrencies over the past decade. While it’s been the commission’s view that Bitcoin isn’t a security, and so isn’t regulated by the SEC, other coins (like XRP) have faced legal action for that very reason. 

Gensler said in 2018 that he thought XRP was a security; late last year, the SEC took legal action against the coin’s issuer, Ripple Labs, alleging the company knew XRP was an unregulated security all along.

I believe financial technology can be a powerful force for good,” said Gensler in his opening statement, “but only if we continue to harness the core values of the SEC in service of investors, issuers, and the public.”

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