Jay Clayton, the chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), believes that Bitcoin (BTC) is not a security since it acts as a replacement for sovereign currencies, CNBC reports today, June 6.
Clayton, when speaking about the “incredible promise” of distributed ledger technologies driving efficiencies in markets, clarified during today’s CNBC interview his thoughts on cryptocurrencies that are “replacements for sovereign currencies:”
“Replace the dollar, the yen, the euro with Bitcoin. That type of currency is not a security.”
While Clayton did not comment on specific assets besides Bitcoin about their status as securities, he went on to explain that what he considers to be securities are tokens that act as digital assets:
“Where I give you my money and you go off and make a venture […] and in return for me giving you my money, you say, ‘You know what, I’m going to give you a return.’ That is a security, and we regulate that. We regulate the offering of that security, and we regulate the trading of that security.”
When asked to make clear his statement on whether Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) are securities, Clayton told the interviewers, CNBC’s Bob Pisani, “Bob, I just did.”
Clayton added that the SEC won’t support changing the definition of a security to support the ICO community, as they are not “going to do any violence to the traditional definition of a security which has worked well for a long time.”
The SEC chair had previously praised distributed ledger tech, blockchain as an example, during February’s SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) cryptocurrency hearing. At the time, Clayton had noted that every ICO that the SEC had seen so far would be considered a security.
Altcoins Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) have come up in the cryptocurrency security question, with Joseph Lubin of Ethereum emphatically denying that ETH was ever a security, and Ripple similarly rejecting a security classification.
Ripple is now facing a class action lawsuit from a disgruntled investor claiming that the sale of XRP is the sale of an unregistered security, with a former SEC chair recently appointed to represent Ripple in court.