Bitcoin is unlikely to face any new SEC rules this year, based on the watchdog's work plan

Bitcoin is unlikely to face any new SEC rules this year, based on the watchdog's work plan
Gary Gensler's SEC has increased its focus on cryptocurrencies.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • The SEC has released its rulemaking agenda for the year - and bitcoin isn't on there.
  • Cryptocurrencies fall into something of a regulatory grey area, SEC chief Gary Gensler has said.
  • Congress needs to take the lead in regulating bitcoin and crypto exchanges, according to Gensler.

The US markets regulator has released its agenda for the year - and bitcoin isn't on there.

Regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission will be focused on short-selling, special purpose acquisition companies or SPACs, and the "gamification" of retail investing, among other topics. But the SEC is not planning any new rules on cryptocurrencies, according to its agenda, released Friday, despite signs that it is keeping a close eye on bitcoin and other digital tokens.
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SEC boss Gary Gensler has said that investors in cryptocurrencies need more protection, given that the crypto world is currently largely unregulated.

Yet he has also said that cryptocurrencies fall into something of a grey regulatory area. One issue is that the SEC makes rules for securities, but does not consider bitcoin to be one.

The SEC chairman in May pushed Congress to kick off the process of creating regulations for cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges.
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"There's a lot of authority that the SEC currently has in the securities space, and there are a number of cryptocurrencies that fall within that jurisdiction," Gensler told lawmakers.

"But there are some areas, particularly bitcoin-trading on large exchanges, that the public is not currently really protected." However, the SEC has been keeping close tabs on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. It has warned of the dangers of investing in funds that focus on bitcoin futures, for example, and Gensler has spoken publicly about crypto assets several times.
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And there are signs that lawmakers themselves are beginning to take digital currencies more seriously. Senator Elizabeth Warren last week called for a crackdown on "environmentally wasteful cryptocurrencies" like bitcoin in order to help fight the climate crisis.

Even though bitcoin doesn't feature on the SEC's rulemaking agenda, the markets regulator's planned focus on "gamification" could touch upon cryptocurrencies, which retail investors trade on platforms such as Robinhood.

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