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SEC Chair Gary Gensler Remains Tight-Lipped on Future of Spot Bitcoin ETFs

Brian Yue
Last updated: | 2 min read
Speaking at a conference hosted by the Healthy Markets Association on Wednesday, Gensler reiterated his position that Bitcoin is a commodity, while also continuing to express apprehension about the overall state of the crypto industry.
Source: Pixabay

Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler said he would not “pre-judge” the future of spot Bitcoin ETFs when asked if the SEC would take any action soon regarding the matter.

Speaking at a conference hosted by the Healthy Markets Association on Wednesday, Gensler reiterated his position that Bitcoin is a commodity, while also continuing to express apprehension about the overall state of the crypto industry.

“It’s kind of like common sense versus the hyperbole in this field,” Gensler said. “This is a field that is rife with bad actors and rife with fraud and manipulation and money laundering.”

Several asset managers, including BlackRock and Fidelity, have been waiting patiently for the SEC to approve the first spot Bitcoin ETF. The companies have filed multiple applications over the past few months, but have all faced delays so far.

When asked about Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chair Rostin Behnam’s remarks regarding the necessity of additional authority for the derivatives regulator to supervise crypto, Gensler conveyed his support for granting the CFTC increased authority, particularly surrounding bitcoin.

Gensler has previously called the agency’s review method a “time-tested process.”

“When an asset manager is seeking to take something public, these exchange traded products need to register with the SEC, and they go through a filing, somewhat similar to going public, like an IPO,” Gensler said in an interview with Bloomberg TV last month.

“And so it’s really the work of our Division of Corporation Finance that gives feedback, our Division of Trading and Markets of course looks at the filings,” he continued. “This is a time tested process that goes back decades. The staff of the SEC, it’s called the Disclosure Review Team, but in that group, they respond and give feedback to potential issuers.”

On Tuesday, the SEC engaged in new discussions with delegates from Invesco and BlackRock to explore possible strategies for addressing concerns related to “balance sheet impacts and risks.” The SEC had also convened meetings with Grayscale and BlackRock last week, as outlined in a memo released by the regulatory agency.

Gensler, a former chair of the CFTC, has previously asserted that numerous cryptocurrencies should be classified as securities.

During the conference, he also referenced a prior speech in which he likened the lack of compliance in the crypto industry to the conditions of the 1920s, a period before the implementation of federal securities laws.

“That was being kind,” he remarked on Wednesday.