Bitcoin Traders in U.S. Lack Investor Protections, Gensler Says

U.S. investors lack protections when they trade Bitcoin on cryptocurrency exchanges, Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler told lawmakers.

While his agency currently has authority to regulate digital coins that are considered securities, trading in the world’s biggest cryptocurrency represents an oversight gap, Gensler said Thursday during a hearing of House Financial Services Committee. The SEC has signaled that Bitcoin is a commodity under U.S. law and therefore not subject to the agency’s toughest rules.

“There’s a lot of authority that the SEC currently has in the securities space and there are a number of cryptocurrencies that fall within that jurisdiction,” Gensler said. “But there are some areas, particularly Bitcoin trading on large exchanges, that the public is not currently really protected.”

His comments on crypto are the clearest yet on how he plans to regulate the nascent industry. Speculation has been building for months that Gensler, who taught a class on digital assets at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, would have the SEC take a more accommodating stance.

Gensler didn’t weigh in on whether the SEC intends to approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, something the cryptocurrency market is desperate for and is one of the most consequential issues for the industry.

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