SEC chair: retail crypto investors should be protected

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Gary Gensler, chair of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, said the agency’s protections that apply to investors of traditional assets should extend to those in the crypto market.

In prepared remarks released Monday for the Penn Law Capital Markets Association Annual Conference, Gensler said he had requested SEC staff to explore getting crypto platforms registered, having them subject to the same regulatory framework as exchanges. In addition, the SEC chair said the agency’s staff could be working towards addressing regulatory clarity in the crypto space by considering how to register platforms “where the trading of securities and non-securities is intertwined” and whether retail crypto investors should be afforded the same protections as those in traditional markets.

“Crypto may offer new ways for entrepreneurs to raise capital and for investors to trade, but we still need investor and market protection,” said Gensler. “We already have robust ways to protect investors trading on platforms. And we have robust ways to protect investors when entrepreneurs want to raise money from the public. We ought to apply these same protections in the crypto markets.”

The SEC chair added that his staff would explore whether it would be “appropriate to segregate out custody,” seemingly separating the registration regime for platforms offering custody and those that don’t. 

“There’s no reason to treat the crypto market differently just because different technology is used.”

Related: Crypto in the crosshairs: US regulators eye the cryptocurrency sector

During his time at the SEC, Gensler has repeatedly urged crypto projects with securities to register to ensure that investors are protected in a ‘come in and talk to us’ approach. Many crypto firms have criticized the lack of regulatory clarity in the United States, which can be subject to interpretation from agencies including the SEC, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

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