SEC’s Jay Clayton Talks at Consensus Invest Event on Token’s Being Securities and Bitcoin ETF


Jay Clayton is the chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), so when he speaks, it ought to be listened to. At the recent Consensus: Invest conference, hosted by CoinDesk in Manhattan, he spoke with investor Glenn Hutchins about what needs to happen in the industry before there are certain regulatory approvals in the space.

Right now, Clayton doesn’t believe that Bitcoin should be considered a security, which elicited a round of applause from the audience. However, in a statement directed at startups in the industry, he said, “Get your act together.” he added, “If you finance a venture with a token offering, you should start with the assumption that it is a security.

Along with the discussions of what Bitcoin needs to change, there were several other topics of discussion that Clayton brought attention to, like the fact that an ETF doesn’t look like it will happen soon. Caitlyn Long, a part of the Wyoming Blockchain Coalition, said, “I know there are a lot of folks who would love to have the ETF approved, but I don’t think that’s very lightly.

Trust is a huge factor for Clayton with any approvals in the industry at all. Right now, concerning price manipulation, Clayton doesn’t see crypto exchanges as being prepared for the prevention of this issue. At the panel, Clayton appeared to imply there could be efforts in process to move bitcoin onto a regulated exchange, though it could prove to be too lofty a goal.

In the quest to tame cryptocurrency, Clayton was steadfast on the need for anti-money laundering protection for any trading involving crypto. This suggestion made Long worry that there will be a future “CorpoCoin,” asking, “What’s going to happen if this becomes too corporatized? Is the crypto community going to fork off?”

Considering how the SEC has been aggressive in their work with ICOs lately, a recommendation that Clayton urged is that crypto startups would be wise to get involved soon. Penalties have already been assigned for two startups that failed to register, and this is a case where it is better to show up, rather than be found out.

The startups that seem to have the SEC on their side are the ones that are working to issue their own tokens. To help with communications with these types of platforms, Clayton noted that there’s a new fintech-focused division. The goal of startups involved with the SEC are to get “no action” letters, meaning that the SEC will essentially leave them be. However, no startup has managed to get one of these elusive letters yet.

Overall, the message seemed to be that the SEC is in favor of crypto startups, as long as they comply with the laws. However, the regulatory experts on this panel of the conference believe that these changes are easier said than done.

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