Crypto markets are like the Wild West, mostly operating outside of regulations that seek to protect investors and consumers. The asset class is plagued by “fraud, scams and abuse,” and in order to survive, crypto markets must be policed, according to Gary Gensler, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The SEC is the U.S. government oversight agency responsible for regulating the securities markets and protecting investors. The debate around cryptocurrency regulation is often focused on the status on securities.
Some crypto fans and industry executives have pushed for the market to be categorized as a commodity market, not a security, according to a SoFi blog. Commodities like gold have historically been used as a store of value. Cryptocurrencies have also emerged as a store of value or tool for speculation, leading many to say they’re closer to a commodity.
“I believe we have a crypto market now where many tokens may be unregistered securities,” Gensler said, referring to initial coin offerings, the fundraising process that lets founders sell tokens to investors before even having a system in place.
The Howey Test is a three-question test used to determine whether something is an investment contract, and therefore, a security. It’s named after the 1946 U.S. Supreme Court case SEC v. W.J. Howey Co.
The three questions are:
If the answer to these questions is “yes,” then the asset is considered a security.
Gensler suggested that the SEC could become more aggressive in policing crypto trading, lending platforms and stablecoins to regulate cryptocurrency markets using existing rules.
He called on Congress to give the SEC more resources and scope to oversee the sector, Wall Street Journal reported.
“We just don’t have enough investor protection in crypto. Frankly, at this time, it’s more like the Wild West,” Gensler said Tuesday in a prepared statement to the Aspen Security Forum. “We have taken and will continue to take our authorities as far as they go.”
Responses from some industry leaders and analysts were accepting, and even positive, wrote David Z. Morris chief insights columnist at CoinDesk.
“That’s surprising in an industry used to fending off harmful regulation, and more than anything reflects faith in Gensler’s deep knowledge of both the promise and technical underpinnings of blockchain and cryptocurrencies,” Morris wrote.
Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 74: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin returns for a new season of the GHOGH podcast to discuss Bitcoin, bubbles, and Biden. He talks about the risk factors for Bitcoin as an investment asset including origin risk, speculative market structure, regulatory, and environment. Are broader financial markets in a massive speculative bubble?
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