At least one U.S. regulatory agency doesn’t want to wait around for Congress to take up the issue of regulating cryptocurrencies. According to a Bloomberg report yesterday, the digital asset exchanges where crypto is bought and sold, are on the regulatory radar of the SEC this year.
Ever since the Presidential Working Group issued its findings last fall on a specific type of digital coins, officials at the SEC, Treasury, and Fed have been publicly pressuring elected members of Congress to take policy actions on programmable money. Since that report was issued, the House and Senate have held initial hearings to gather information and score political points – but that’s been about it.
It’s reported that Chair Gensler wants to see crypto trading platforms – such as Coinbase, Gemini, Kraken…etc. – move under the investor protection auspices of his agency, much like the way the SEC oversees the NYSE and NASDAQ stock exchanges.
“I’ve asked staff to look at every way to get these platforms inside the investor protection remit,” said Gensler in the news article. “If the [crypto] trading platforms don’t come into the regulated space, it’d be another year of the public being vulnerable.”
It’s not clear if the SEC’s regulatory reach for crypto exchanges is overreach or reasonable, but don’t expect Congress to help clarify those points this year.
That’s because cryptocurrencies are a dog at the polling booth, and I don’t mean Shiba Inu or Dogecoin. While 86% of voter-aged Americans have heard of cryptocurrencies, only 16% of adults have actually bought or traded any type of programmable money. Crypto is not a major issue for a plurality of the voting population, let alone a majority of voters. It’s improbable that crypto will be a winning policy issue for either party at the critical midterm elections this November, where majority control for both houses of Congress is up for grabs.