Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler said Monday that bitcoin BTCUSD,
was the only cryptocurrency he was willing to publicly label a commodity, rather than a security, in an interview with CNBC.
The debate over whether a particular cryptocurrency qualifies as a commodity rather than a security has far-reaching implications, as financial instruments that are securities can only be legally sold to the public if the issuer registers. with the SEC and adheres to a strict disclosure regime.
“A lot of these tokens…the investing public expects a return, just like when they invest in other financial assets that we call securities,” he said in an interview on Squawk Box. “Many of these financial assets, crypto financial assets, have the key attributes of a security,” and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the SEC.
“Some like bitcoin, and that’s the only one I’m going to say…my predecessors and others have said they’re a commodity,” he added, noting that this classification gives Commodity Futures Trading Commission a key role in overseeing bitcoin markets.
“There are two big market regulators in this country,” Gensler continued, saying the agencies have the ability to work together to bring fairness, transparency and investor protection to digital asset markets.
The prices of digital assets like bitcoin and ether ETHUSD,
have fallen significantly in recent weeks, but have shown signs of stabilizing more recently.
Bitcoin has fallen nearly 60% in the past six months, but is up about 1% in the past week, according to FactSet.