When Bitcoin ETF? Senator Warren badgers SEC down crypto regulatory rabbit hole
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US senator and crypto sceptic Elizabeth “Rabs” Warren* has written a stern letter to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), questioning its stance, or lack thereof, on crypto regulation.
(*Possibly not the senator’s nickname. But should be.)
Warren has given SEC Chairman Gary Gensler 28 days to respond to her series of questions and provide details about how the SEC plans to implement protection protocols for crypto consumers and investors in the US.
Warren is a former presidential candidate and is a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. It’s kinda like a Dollar Store Jedi Council, minus the lightsabers, and focuses on financial services legislation and regulatory control. (Although, that does almost describe the plot of The Phantom Menace.)
In the letter, the Democratic senator states: “While demand for cryptocurrencies and the use of cryptocurrency exchanges have sky-rocketed, the lack of common-sense regulations has left ordinary investors at the mercy of manipulators and fraudsters.
“These regulatory gaps endanger consumers and investors,” she continued, “and undermine the safety of our financial markets. The SEC must use its full authority to address these risks, and Congress must also step up to close these regulatory gaps.”
The senator is no fan of crypto, recently describing digital currencies in general as “not a good investment” and labelling Bitcoin “an environmental disaster”.
Dear Senator Warren @SenWarren according to the testimony at the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services 9 days ago – the common sense regulations are already in place.
— Rick McCracken DIGI (@RichardMcCrackn) July 8, 2021
Chairman Gensler, on the other hand, is a former blockchain educator with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), whose appointment to the SEC role in April was generally met with optimism from the crypto community.
For his part, the chairman has stated that he believes there needs to be “greater investor protection of crypto markets”, telling CNBC’s Squawk Box program as much back in early May.
With this in mind, it’s perhaps left Senator Warren bewildered as to why the SEC did not include crypto in its Annual Regulatory Agenda, released on June 11.
In her letter to Gensler, the senator also hinted at the possible need for legislation – “to ensure the SEC has the proper authority to close existing gaps in regulation that leave investors and consumers vulnerable to dangers in this highly opaque and volatile market.”
Although unaligned with the senator’s overall negative views about crypto, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce recently expressed frustration with the contents of the Annual Regulatory Agenda.
In a joint statement with fellow commissioner Elad Roisman last month, Peirce – aka “Crypto Mom” to some – criticised the lack of any forthcoming digital asset rulings from the commission to which she’s appointed.
While experienced crypto traders and investors might thrive on riding the wild waves of volatility that an unregulated market brings, regulatory clarity is seen by many market participants as necessary to grow, and help improve and mature the crypto space in general.
Commissioner Peirce has also been highly vocal about a Bitcoin ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) being “overdue” for SEC approval.
“With each passing day, the rationale that we have used in the past for not approving seems to grow weaker,” she told CNBC in an interview on July 5.
There are currently nine Bitcoin ETF applications under review in the US, although the SEC has a frustrating habit of delaying its decisions to approve or deny by several weeks or months.
The latest Bitcoin ETF application to cop a “maybe later”, belongs to Anthony Scaramucci’s SkyBridge Capital. Scaramucci is a US financier who briefly served in the Trump administration as a communications director.
The SkyBridge ETF’s review period has now been extended by the SEC to an August 25 deadline.
Former CFTC Chairman Timothy Massad is calling for a bitcoin ETF.
SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce has been calling for a bitcoin ETF for awhile.
Eventually the regulators will have to capitulate because their colleagues will demand it.
— Pomp 🌪 (@APompliano) July 7, 2021