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SEC Omits Cryptocurrency From 2021 Regulatory Agenda

·2 min read

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced its regulatory agenda for 2021 and cryptocurrencies are not on it.

The SEC has curiously left cryptocurrency and blockchain off its list of regulatory priorities for 2021 according to the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. The official release is called the Spring 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions. The purpose of the document is to provide “important public notice and transparency about proposed regulatory and deregulatory actions within the Executive Branch,” according to the release.

The document breaks down the actions each administrative agency plans to move forward on, in both the short and long term.

Some of the items that did make the regulatory agenda include cybersecurity risk governance, short sale disclosure reforms, and amendments to the custody rules for investment advisers.

SEC Chairman pushing for broader regulations

The move to leave off cryptocurrency, specifically Bitcoin, off the agenda is a little surprising after SEC Chairman, Gary Gensler, had spoken about the need for regulations on crypto. Speaking with Congress back in May, Gensler stated that his desire was to regulate cryptos in a similar manner to the stock market.

He said one of his missions is “to bring the similar protections to the exchanges where you trade crypto assets, as you might expect on the New York Stock Exchange or Nasdaq.” While Gensler is pro-crypto, this is not the first time he has stated the need for expanded regulations to protect investors. On an episode of CNBC’s Squawk Box, The Chairman acknowledged that one of the primary issues was that of unregistered securities posing as cryptos. “To the extent that something is a security, the SEC has a lot of authority. And a lot of crypto tokens, I won’t call them cryptocurrencies for this moment are indeed securities.”

While Gensler is not pushing regulatory action this year against cryptos, he did recently make a request of Congress to begin hearings and take official steps to control crypto. In the month following that request, no official action has been taken. 

Gensler is not the only big-name pushing for more regulatory restrictions surrounding cryptos. Senator Elizabeth Warren has long been critical of cryptocurrency, calling them “a fourth-rate alternative to real currency.” Recently, she has taken a hard stance against the mining of bitcoin in the United States, objecting to the negative impact it has on the environment.