SEC Postpones Decision on VanEck Bitcoin ETF to June 17

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has delayed its decision on the VanEck Bitcoin ETF until June.

On March 1, 2021, Cboe BZX Exchange filed with the SEC to list and trade shares of the VanEck Bitcoin Trust. The SEC typically takes 45 days, or a longer period of 90 days, from the date an application is filed to render a decision whether it should be approved or disapproved.

Per standard, the 45-day window for the application ends on May 3, but the SEC is extending the deadline. The official notice reads,

“The Commission finds that it is appropriate to designate a longer period within which to take action on the proposed rule change so that it has sufficient time to consider the proposed rule change and the comments received.”

As such, June 17 is designated as the date by which the Commission shall either approve or disapprove, but of course, even then, they can defer the decision, which is to be seen.

As we reported, the new SEC Chairman Gary Gensler, who has taught about crypto and blockchain at MIT, was confirmed less than a fortnight ago.

In the past, SEC disapproved every single Bitcoin ETF application on the grounds of extreme price volatility, manipulation, and fraud in the crypto market.

Meanwhile, several Bitcoin ETFs have been approved this year in other countries. Canada has even moved past Bitcoin and already has four Ether ETFs trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Purpose Bitcoin ETF, the most popular in North America so far, has amassed almost 18,685 BTC.

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Author: AnTy

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton Goes Out with a Bang

The parting shot leaves the crypto market red, a BTD opportunity.

  • US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton’s last day as the Wall Street top regulator was on Wednesday.
  • While exciting news to the crypto community, Clayton’s parting shot provided the industry with a red market.

On Tuesday, SEC charged Ripple and its former CEO Chris Larsen and current CEO Brad Garlinghouse, after seven years, for selling $1.3 billion unregistered securities offering in 2013.

This resulted in the price of XRP crashing 58% this week. This led to a market-wide sell-off that wiped out $62 billion since Monday when Garlinghouse first reported about the upcoming charges.

However, Bitcoin was largely unaffected, going down to only $22,700 and we are back above $23,000 already.

This crypto carnage can also be seen as a blessing in disguise as it gave investors an opportunity to buy the dips amidst the raging bull market.

Clayton had previously announced that he will be stepping down by the end of this year. In a statement posted on SEC’s website, Clayton said he submitted a letter to President Donald Trump informing him of his decision to leave the agency this week.

While Trump is likely to have ‘Crypto Mom’ Hester Peirce or Elad Roisman as acting Chairman, President-elect will be picking a permanent successor to Cayton. Biden will be sworn in as US President on January 20. Clayton, a former partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, wrote,

“It has been the honor and privilege of my professional life to serving the American people as Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Clayton praised the SEC for keeping the financial markets function through the coronavirus pandemic and its efforts to modernize regulations. He added,

“The absolute trust and unwavering support you and your economic team provided to me and the 4,500 women and men of the Commission has enabled us to pursue our mission to the benefit of the more than 65 million American households who invest in and depend on our markets.”

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Author: AnTy

SEC Commissioner Urges to ‘Embrace’ the Personal Financial Liberty as Crypto & DeFi Gains Adoption

Commissioner Hester M. Peirce of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made new remarks on Thursday urging regulators to honor the right to financial freedom.

Talking about the digital assets sector, Peirce, who is known as ‘Crypto Mom’ in the industry, said crypto-regulation is one area where “intersection between personal liberty and regulation looms large.”

She noted the new challenges posed by crypto because they are rooted in a key principle of people’s fundamental right to engage with one another without a trusted third party. At the same time, regulators are used to dealing with intermediaries “because they are easy to grab hold of and regulate.”

Peirce discusses how these challenges are growing as crypto evolves while the SEC struggles with the issues with their regulatory nature.

Now with the explosion of decentralized finance, they “will pose thorny questions and decisions for us in the coming years.”

Reembrace national passion for personal freedom

Peirce remains an advocate for the crypto industry. Once again, she wants regulators to “figure out a way to embrace the personal liberty principles undergirding it,” especially now that crypto is gaining adoption outside and inside the legacy financial system. She said in her speech,

“If we were instead to steamroll the technology’s liberty-enhancing features under the weight of regulation, we would lose a lot of the power of the new technology to afford opportunities to people whose autonomy has previously been curbed by.”

According to her, regulators are using climate policy as a disguise as it “does not raise the same kind of fears that other types of central planning would.” Peirce said,

“The decentralization of crypto is the opposite of central planning, which is making something of a comeback, with financial regulation as one of its primary tools. After an unsuccessful history, people would reject central planning out of hand unless it came in a disguise. The disguise of the day is climate policy.”

Directing these efforts through financial regulation will only make the capital markets less effective and more brittle at serving all sectors of the economy.

The crypto-friendly SEC commissioner also touched upon the accredited investors, which requires a person to be wealthy or have a high income. Although the accredited investor category has been expanded slightly, Peirce added,

“the presumption that people need to entreat a regulator for permission to invest still offends principles of personal liberty, which allow people both to earn and spend money as they see fit.”

Today’s “well-intentioned regulations” are very much in tension with personal liberty, and Peirce wants the regulators to “reembrace our national passion” for individual freedom.

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Author: AnTy

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton to Step Down By Years End; Will Crypto Regulations Ease?

Jay Clayton is set to step down as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman by the end of this year.

Clayton, who has been at the agency’s helm since May 2017, stated he would be departing six months from his scheduled exit. He was expected to step down in June next year.

Appointed by President Donald Trump and sworn in as chair in May 2017. His early departure could have accelerated by the apparent election of Joe Biden as the next president, it still remains to be seen who might replace him. Stating,

“I would like to thank President Trump for the opportunity, and the support and freedom, to lead the women and men of the SEC.”

The chair also thanked Secretary Mnuchin as well as the entire treasury for their support and assistance. He also praised other agencies in the treasury department for their close working relations.

According to a statement from the SEC, Through Clayton’s leadership, the SEC improved the capacity of businesses of different sizes to raise capital and strengthen the enforcement of programs. The report said:

“The Commission obtained orders for over $14 billion in monetary remedies, including a record $4.68 billion in fiscal year 2020, and returned approximately $3.5 billion to harmed investors.”

“In addition, during Chairman Clayton’s tenure, the Commission paid approximately $565 million to whistleblowers, including the largest single award in the program’s history ($114 million).”

The SEC also stated that Clayton was steadfast in the enforcement of different policies and regulations within the crypto space. His tenure coincides with the recent largest Bitcoin’s bull run and the 2017 ICO’s wave.

Clayton was a controversial figure in the crypto space for his hard stance that almost all the ICOs were offering unregistered securities. Notably, however, Clayton opined that Bitcoin was not a security as well as Ethereum too. Later, the SEC reaffirmed this opinion.

In his tenure, Clayton has seen the SEC institute fines on numerous crypto projects which ran ICOs. Over the last year alone, the SEC collected about $1.26 billion as fines from different crypto projects. His departure is seen as a welcome move from the crypto and blockchain community.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Bitcoin-Friendly Ex-CFTC Chief Gary Gensler to Advise Biden on Wall Street

Former Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Gary Gensler will be joining Joe Biden’s presidential transition to examine financial regulators.

Gensler, a former Goldman Sachs partner, is known for implementing a new regulatory regime for swaps and has gained a reputation for standing up to Wall Street.

He is also known for his bitcoin-friendly views, which he called a “catalyst for change.” Gensler actually taught a course at MIT called “Blockchain and Money” on how Bitcoin and the technology underpinning it could be used in finance.

It has been under Donald Trump’s presidential term that the IRS added the infamousdo you own crypto” question, and the President told the Treasury to “go after Bitcoin.” Not to mention he himself isn’t a fan of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies either.

Meanwhile, Gensler has said although many currencies face regulatory scrutiny, Bitcoin “should remain exempt” from that.

Crypto market participants feel positive about Joe Biden and that he could be good for the industry. Even cryptocurrency derivatives exchange FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried made the second biggest contribution to Biden.

The real winner of this election has clearly been Bitcoin as not only the price of the digital currency reached some important levels to climb to a 24-month high, but crypto-friendly faces could be seen in the government too.

Quant trader and entrepreneur Qiao Wang also noted that Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have been “openly hostile towards BTC.”

Not only “a likely Republican senate to counter Dems’ aggressive regulation tendencies,” but Wang also believes, “Democrats are more likely to create inflation which is good for BTC.”

Recently we also saw Wyoming electing Bitcoiner Cynthia Lummis to the US Senate.

KeyBank NA executive Don Graves has also been tapped for the role, a longtime Biden adviser involved in reviewing bank regulators.

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Author: AnTy

SEC Raises the Crowdfunding Limit; A Better Alternative to ICO, IEO, & Venture Capital

The US Securities and Exchange Commission raised the limit on crowdfunding from $1.07 million to $5 million, making it easier for startups to raise money from non-accredited investors.

With a 3-2 vote on Monday, several exemptions were made to federal securities legal guidelines that require issuers to register with the SEC and publish monetary statements.

Many financial instruments are categorized as securities, and to offer security, one is either required to register, which is a time-consuming and expensive process, or fall under the exemption such as Reg A, Reg D, which now also involves Reg CF or Reg Crowdfunding.

With this rule change, companies are now provided with more flexibility.

“This means entrepreneurs can raise more money and do so more easily,” said Bruce Fenton, CEO of CEO Chainstone Labs. Adding,

“This is huge – $5 million is significant enough to attract much larger and more high quality issuers. The small business sector will be rebuilt — this is a step to accelerate that. Reg CF also sidesteps the accredited requirement- an antiquated thorn in the side of innovation.”

The change in the rules is the newest assistance to small and medium-size corporations following the expansion of accredited investors’ definition in August.

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said the rule would “improve effectivity and facilitate capital formation,” and that it might cut back regulatory prices and burdens for corporations.

“Huge for companies from non-tech hub cities, underrepresented founders, and less sexy industries,” said Ryan Selkis of Messari.

Meanwhile, Shehan Chandrasekera, Head of Tax Strategy CoinTracker, says this brings a better alternative for crypto companies that usually goes the route of Initial Coin Offering (ICI), Initial Exchange Offering (IEO), and venture capital.

“REG Crowdfunding limit went up to 5M from 1M per SEC. A better alternative to an ICO or IEO,” he said.

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Author: AnTy

Chairman Jay Clayton: The SEC is Open to Tokenizing ETFs Despite Recent Clampdowns

The Chair of the U.S Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), Jay Clayton, has said that the agency is open to discussing tokenized exchange-traded funds (ETFs). He was speaking at a Chamber of Digital Commerce webinar held on Oct 2, where he highlighted that ‘It may very well be the case that […stocks] all become tokenized.’

Despite a struggle to stay in the loop on crypto innovations, the latest sentiments by Clayton signal SEC’s openness to its underlying potential. A tokenized ETF will allow American investors to access stock indices in the form of tokens, hence Clayton’s futuristic view of integrating traditional instruments with modern-day tech ‘tokenization.’ Clayton said in a Decrypt report,

“We’re willing to try that; our door is wide open. If you want to show how to tokenize the ETF product in a way that adds efficiency, we want to meet with you, we want to facilitate that.”

SEC Actions Paint a Different Picture

While the SEC Chair appears to have taken an open stance towards tokenization, the agency’s recent clampdowns on crypto businesses state otherwise. Some industry players that have faced the SEC wrath this year include Abra, a crypto investment platform that offers clients stocks in tokenized versions. The firm was fined around $300,000, split between CFTC and SEC, given that both agencies were pursuing Abra.

Other than the clampdowns, SEC has rejected several Bitcoin ETFs citing that the BTC price can easily be manipulated. Clayton said,

”We got off on the wrong foot in this innovation. There was the theory that because it was so efficient because it could have had so much promise, we could toss aside some of those principles of responsibility and transparency.”

He was eager to note that the SEC has to stay true to its role by identifying product launch issuers in America’s financial markets. On this, he further mentioned that they are still in pursuit of ICO issuers who might have breached U.S securities regulations during the ICO boom in 2017. It also appears the SEC is entirely against the narrative of ‘payment networks,’ but instead views ETF’s a financing vehicle,

“What we don’t like is when someone says, ‘you know, the function is payments … Don’t pretend that it’s a payment system when it’s actually a financing vehicle.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

SEC Takes a ‘Big Step Forward’ Regarding Broker-Dealers Trading Digital Asset Securities

In a no-action letter dated Sept. 25 from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the agency has released guidance on the settlement of digital asset securities at alternative systems, which “could end up being significant news for exchanges, including DEXs.”

The SEC proposes a “three-step process” for ATS trading that might replace the previous four-step process that FINRA and the SEC instructed broker-dealers to follow. Dating back to the July 2019 statement from the SEC, the letter outlined the factors to be considered to allow ATS operators to facilitate the trade of digital securities.

In the latest process, The broker-dealer custodian can inform the customer about the execution of trades after the fact as such, customers can submit the trade orders and confirmation at the same time, which “doesn’t change much for trading in the industry,” said Brian Farber.

According to the letter, this three-step process would “reduce operational and settlement risk.” Lewis Cohen, founder of blockchain-focused law firm DLxLaw tweeted,

“In the 3-step approach, customers are never exposed to a BD/ATS, so CPR doesn’t apply. It may sound obvious, but still a big step forward.”

Moreover, enforcement action won’t be taken if the broker-dealer operator maintains a minimum of $250,000 in net capital, all applicable securities laws are followed, and an agreement between the broker and their customers states that “broker-dealer operator does not guarantee or otherwise have responsibility for settling the trades.”

This means custodial broker-dealers like Coinbase can legally exchange digital securities without the SEC pursuing enforcement action against them, provided the above-mentioned steps are followed.

According to Farber, it raises new questions such as the undefined term “custodian,” which not every holder uses. The mandate for $250k in net capital would require amending a membership agreement with FINRA. At the same time, the 2019 joint statement clearly prohibits those broker-dealers from custodial functions.

Comptroller Brian Brooks of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency praised the move.

Drew Hinkes, an attorney at US law firm Carlton Fields also tweeted that the big picture is “It got easier to trade digital asset securities. BDs have certainty as to how to trade digital asset securities (and) Custodians are even MORE important.”

But still, there is no clear way to determine which cryptos are security and legal to trade. As such, more clarity and guidance is needed from the SEC.

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Author: AnTy

Nigeria to Regulate Cryptocurrency Trading; SEC Says Digital Assets Are Securities

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria will start regulating trade in digital currencies to ensure investor protection and that transactions are transparent. The authorities said on Monday,

“The general objective of regulation is not to hinder technology or stifle innovation, but to create standards that encourage ethical practices.”

The agency said it’ is required to regulate “when the character of the investments qualifies as securities transactions.”

In the past, the West African nation declined to recognize digital currencies as legal tender. In 2018, the Central Bank of Nigeria said that cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), XRP, Monero (XMR), and Onecoin, weren’t considered money.

The Abuja-based regulator said in a statement that it views digital currencies as exchangeable securities and that the issuers or sponsors of these virtual assets “shall be guided by the commission’s regulation.”

The country is now coming to acknowledge the growing presence of digital assets, and Ayodeji Ebo, managing director at Afrinvest securities in Lagos, said, “the earlier it is regulated, the less havoc on the economy.”

“It’s another way to provide alternative assets to investors,” he told Bloomberg.

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Author: AnTy

SEC Charges Rapper T.I. & Four Others for Promoting Fraudulent ICO, FLiK

The US Securities and Exchange Commission has charged Atlanta-based rapper Clifford Harris, Jr., better known as T.I., and four others for promoting an unregistered and fraudulent initial coin offerings (ICO).

T.I. promoted FLiK tokens in 2017 to his social media followers, falsely stating that he was a co-owner of the project boasted as “Netflix on the blockchain.” The platform was advertised as a streaming media platform with products that can be purchased with digital tokens, the SEC said in a statement on Friday.

The 39-year old rapper has agreed to pay the penalty of $75,000.

As per SEC’s order, he is not allowed to participate in offerings or sales of digital-asset securities for at least five years.

The company’s founder, a film producer, named Ryan Felton, who started FLiK and CoinSpark, is meanwhile facing claims that he misappropriated the raised funds to buy Ferrari, a million-dollar home, and other luxury goods.

“Felton victimized investors through material misrepresentations, misappropriation of their funds, and manipulative trading,” said Carolyn M. Welshhans, Associate Director in the Division of Enforcement.

The complaint alleges that Felton secretly transferred FLiK tokens to himself and gained an additional $2.2 million in profits by selling them into the market.

Previously, boxer Floyd Mayweather and music producer DJ Khaled have also been sued by the regulators for hyping the ICOs.

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Author: AnTy