Cointelegraph By Marie Huillet
Hester Peirce of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission is well-known as a regulator who has shown consistent support for digital assets, so much so that her moniker “crypto mom” has become unshakeable.
In a new interview with the Thinking Crypto podcast, Peirce reflected on the United States’ regulatory approach to the asset class to date, arguing that, “I think we have missed the boat a bit on crypto. And I think a big piece of that comes from the failure to provide clarity in our rules.” She said that contrary to the persistent narrative that crypto is somehow indissociable from illegality and a desire to outwit the system, her own experience has been that industry participants want to comply with the rules, but have often struggled to do so without adequate guidance:
“Am I optimistic that we’re going to finally get to the point where we do provide more clarity? I think we have a good chance. […] We’re likely about to get a new chairman, Gary Gensler, who had his hearing in front of the Senate. That’s one step in the process. Then he has to get voted on. And if he does get confirmed and come to the SEC, he brings with them really deep knowledge of this asset class.”
The Senate Banking Committee has now voted 14-10 in favor of Gensler’s nomination being sent to the Senate floor, after two Republicans joined ranks with 12 Democrats to support the choice.
Peirce underscored Gensler’s recent experience teaching courses on blockchain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, noting that he’s been “surrounded by people who are enthusiastic about this technology.” In her view, Gensler understands the positive potential of the industry, as well as the need for more clarity in order to facilitate its development. Not having to convince him of these things will be “very helpful,” she said.
Peirce did note, however, that while the chairman does “set the agenda for the agency” and, in the case of Gensler, can be expected to support a better rulemaking approach to crypto, a considerable degree of day-to-day continuity at the SEC in its interaction with the crypto industry will be assured regardless of who’s chairman:
“The intent of having a five member commission is to have continuity over time, so that you don’t see massive swings in policy […] so it is important for people to know that the work of the commission […] [is] not going to change dramatically when a new chairman. […] The regulatory agenda may change quite a bit, but the work of the commission, [its] day-to-day work, […] will continue on regardless of who’s chairman.”
On this note of cautious optimism, Peirce also commented with good humor on her affectionate nickname in the U.S. crypto space, saying, “You know, I’ve always loved the idea of being a mom, and I’m not a mom in the real world. So being a mom in the virtual world is not a bad thing at all.” However, she quickly pushed back gently against any unwanted implications, commenting:
“I think it’s really important to say, no, regulators can’t be your parents. They’re not going to make your decisions for you and they’re not going to bail you out when you run into trouble.”
Peirce stressed that she’s “not an advocate for any particular asset class,” but rather “I’m an advocate for people having the ability to invest in the asset classes that they deem valuable for whatever their end objectives are.” Having first learned about Bitcoin (BTC) when she was at George Mason, she said she is a “big believer in the power of decentralization” and that cryptocurrency “fit really nicely into that.”
“Bitcoin maximalists? They can’t stop innovation,” says Mati Greenspan
Cointelegraph By Marco Castrovilli
In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph during Bitcoin 2021 in Miami, Greenspan criticized a segment of Bitcoin (BTC) maximalists for being “small-minded and insecure,” pointing out that they don’t have control over the main cryptocurrency.
“They cannot stop any kind of innovation from happening. So let them yap, it doesn’t bother me,” said Mati Greenspan, founder and CEO of Quantum Economics, about Bitcoin maximalists.
Greenspan‘s statements came a few days after a number of Bitcoin hardliners attacked him on Twitter for calling the Bitcoin conference in Miami “a crypto conference.”
Greenspan’s inclusive view on crypto is also reflected in his diversified investment portfolio. When asked about it, Greenspan pointed out that Dogecoin (DOGE) is his top holding on eToro. “Why not?” he said. “It’s funny!”
Check out the full interview on our YouTube channel, and don’t forget to subscribe!
Over 2 million adults in UK now hold crypto, FCA survey finds
Cointelegraph By Helen Partz
A new study by the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority has indicated a significant increase in cryptocurrency ownership in the country.
On Thursday, the FCA published the results of a consumer survey which found that 2.3 million adults in the U.K. now hold crypto assets, up from 1.9 million last year. Alongside the increasing number of crypto investors, the study also identified a surge in ownership volumes, with median holdings rising to 300 British pounds ($420) from 260 pounds ($370) in 2020.
The rising popularity of holding cryptocurrency comes in line with an uptick in the awareness level as 78% of adults said they have heard of crypto, up from 73% last year.
Despite the rising awareness and ownership of crypto, the FCA study has flagged a notable decline in understanding of cryptocurrencies, suggesting that some people who have heard of crypto may not fully understand it.
According to the report, only 71% of respondents correctly identified the definition of cryptocurrency from a list of statements, down 4% from 2020. “This suggests there may be a risk of consumers engaging with cryptocurrency without a clear understanding of it,” the FCA noted.
Related: Crypto and ‘meme stocks’ shunned by 90% of UK financial advisers
Sheldon Mills, the FCA’s executive director of consumers and competition, said that some U.K. investors have benefitted from the bull market this year. “However it is important for customers to understand that because these products are largely unregulated that if something goes wrong they are unlikely to have access to the FSCS or the Financial Ombudsman Service,” he added.
The FCA study also said that U.K. consumers significantly favor Bitcoin (BTC) over other cryptocurrencies, with 82% of respondents recognizing BTC. Among those who recognized at least one cryptocurrency, 70% recognized only Bitcoin, up 15% from 2020, the study said. “It seems likely many adults who have now heard of cryptocurrency are only acquainted with Bitcoin,” the FCA stated.
SEC opens to comments on whether to approve VanEck Bitcoin ETF
Cointelegraph By Turner Wright
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an order allowing the public to comment on the proposed rule change surrounding the Bitcoin exchange-traded fund from asset manager VanEck.
According to a Wednesday filing from the SEC, the regulatory body has not yet reached a decision on whether to approve or disapprove of VanEck’s Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, or ETF, but “seeks and encourages interested persons to provide comments” on the proposal. Specifically, the commission is asking the public to consider whether they believe the Bitcoin ETF would be susceptible to manipulation and designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices.
The SEC also asked people to weigh in on “the suitability of Bitcoin as an underlying asset for an exchange-traded product,” and the liquidity and transparency of the Bitcoin (BTC) market. Existing rules require that national securities exchanges are aimed to “protect investors and the public interest.”
Anyone interested in commenting on the proposed Bitcoin ETF will have until 21 days after the order is published in the Federal Register, and 35 days after publication in the same register for rebuttals. Members of public can submit comments through the SEC website, via email, or snail mail.
Related: SEC pushes decision on VanEck Bitcoin ETF until June
VanEck submitted the paperwork to apply for a Bitcoin ETF with the SEC in March following the asset manager withdrawing a similar application it had filed in January in partnership with blockchain startup SolidX. The commission has already extended the deliberation window once, from May 3 to June 17.
The SEC has the ability to extend the deadline in 45-, 45-, 90- and 60-day increments — up to 240 days — before delivering a final decision. However, under Section 19(b)(2)(B) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, the commission also has the right “to determine whether the proposed rule change should be disapproved” prior to any deadline, as is the case in the request for public comment.
No Bitcoin ETF has been approved by regulators in the United States. Given the SEC’s continued delays in the case of VanEck’s, Valkyrie Digital Assets’ and Fidelity Investments’ proposed BTC exchange-traded funds, many do not expect an approval soon. However, Canadian officials have given the green light for many crypto ETFs this year, including offerings from investment fund manager 3iQ, Purpose Investments, Evolve Funds Group and CI Global Asset Management.
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