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SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Insists on Applying Securities Laws to Cryptocurrency Exchanges

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SEC Crypto

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US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler has sent a message to cryptocurrency exchanges, including Coinbase, insisting that existing securities regulations apply to digital assets.

Gary Gensler Insists Cryptocurrency Exchanges Must Comply with Securities Laws

In a video posted on Twitter titled “Office Hours,” Gensler emphasized that crypto exchanges must adhere to the regulations and come into compliance by registering with the SEC. He also stated that investors require essential protection that noncompliance deprives them of.

Gensler pointed out that the securities law is clear, and cryptocurrency exchanges must treat digital assets like securities. He also argued that the platforms have been marketing and selling securities, even if the debate on the topic has been obscured.

The chairman explained that intermediaries for investment contracts, including exchanges, brokers, dealers, and clearinghouses, must comply with securities laws and register with the SEC.

If they do not, investors are left without basic protections, which often leads to difficulties in accessing funds when there are problems such as bankruptcies.

Gensler’s remarks came after the agency’s encounter with a popular crypto exchange Coinbase. The exchange had sued the SEC, seeking transparency and clarity on the regulatory status of the crypto industry.

Coinbase made a specific appeal to the regulatory agency, asking for the public disclosure of its response to a petition that was submitted months ago. The petition sought clarity on whether the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would authorize the regulation of the crypto industry by using the current frameworks established by the SEC.

Coinbase’s legal action has put the discussion on cryptocurrency regulation in the spotlight, prompting many specialists to urge for more explicitness and uniformity in the government’s handling of the sector.

Gensler’s comments come at a critical time when there is growing interest and adoption of cryptocurrencies among individuals, institutional investors, and even governments worldwide.

Gensler Reiterates SEC’s Stance on Digital Assets

During his recent appearance at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, Gary Gensler, the Chairman of the US SEC, reiterated his stance on digital assets.

He made it clear that while Bitcoin may be exempted from being classified as a security, most other cryptocurrencies fall under the security definition. Gensler emphasized that the existing securities regulations can be applied to the crypto market as well, implying that the market should be regulated in a similar manner as traditional securities.

Gensler also highlighted the need for disclosure regulations when it comes to the public offerings of digital assets. He explained that it is crucial for investors to have access to sufficient information and transparency in the crypto market, especially when it comes to raising funds from the public.

Gary Gensler

Congressman Sanford Bishop asked the chairman if the SEC plans to issue a rule to clarify how securities laws apply to digital assets.

Gary Gensler emphasized that the regulations for cryptocurrencies are straightforward and unambiguous. According to Gensler, the SEC has already adopted a policy of “regulation by enforcement,” which involves taking legal action against firms and initiatives that promote unregistered securities, as identified by the regulator.

By doing so, Gensler underlined the SEC’s dedication to ensuring that the laws governing the crypto sector are consistently enforced and that any business or project that violates the regulations would face appropriate consequences.

Throughout this year, the SEC has directed its attention towards some of the most prominent names in the cryptocurrency industry, as it has increased its efforts to clamp down on unregulated securities. This crackdown has been further escalated following the abrupt insolvency of the digital asset exchange FTX in November of last year.

In a bid to ensure compliance and protect investors, the Commission has taken a series of enforcement actions against various crypto exchanges and individuals, such as Bittrex, Genesis, Justin Sun, and Do Kwon.

Gensler argued that nearly all crypto tokens, except for Bitcoin, can be considered securities under the securities law. He emphasized that the industry is still “rife with noncompliance,” but rules are already in place to protect consumers.

The Wild West of the crypto markets necessitates increased compliance, regulation, and clarity to ensure the protection of investors’ funds, the chairman believes.

Update On Coinbase-SEC Class Action


Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the US, had criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for threatening legal action against the exchange for alleged violations of securities laws.

The exchange argued that the SEC appears to be undermining its own role as a monitor of companies registering to sell shares to the public. The exchange claimed that if the SEC believed Coinbase’s core businesses violated securities law, it would have prevented the S-1 document from becoming effective and protected the investing public.

The exchange pointed out that the same regulator approved the Coinbase application to sell shares to the public in April 2021. Coinbase made these comments in response to a Wells notice issued last month by the SEC, which warned it was considering legal action against the exchange over its cryptocurrency staking services and other products.

Coinbase has argued that the SEC appears to have adopted a fresh perspective on cryptocurrency platforms, possibly due to the downfall of the FTX exchange. Nonetheless, Coinbase asserts that FTX and their platform are completely dissimilar.

Coinbase also argued that the SEC seems to have adopted a new view of cryptocurrency platforms following the collapse of the FTX exchange. However, FTX is entirely dissimilar to Coinbase.


According to Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s chief legal officer, the exchange does not list any securities and has implemented a stringent process based on SEC guidelines to prevent listing such assets.

The exchange has warned that an SEC enforcement action would pose significant risks to the agency’s programs. In an attempt to obtain more transparent guidelines on cryptocurrency regulations from the SEC, Coinbase filed a petition in July 2022 and has even gone as far as suing the regulator to compel a response from them.

Coinbase investors are responding to the exchange’s legal challenges and conflict with the SEC. On Thursday, Coinbase’s stock on Nasdaq closed slightly above $54. Although it has fallen far from its all-time high of roughly $342, the stock has risen by 61% this year, matching the gains in Bitcoin.

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