Former Goldman Sachs partner and government regulator Gary Gensler believes that altcoins Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP) should likely be considered unregistered securities, The New York Times reported Sunday, April 22.
After working at Goldman Sachs, Gensler served as one of the top financial regulators in President Obama’s administration, as well as as the finance chief for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. The New York Times reports that Gensler will be joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to teach a course on Blockchain, both lecturing at the MIT Sloan School of Management, as well as being a special advisor to the Media Lab, which contains the Digital Currency Initiative.
Gensler told the New York Times that he does not classify Bitcoin (BTC) as a security due to the fact that it was not issued through an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) and has a decentralized network of developers. On the other hand, Gensler told The New York Times that in regards to ETH and XRP that “there is a strong case for both of them — but particularly Ripple — that they are noncompliant securities.”
Gensler was also the head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 2009 to 2014, a government organization that, along with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), is in the process of coming up with a crypto regulatory framework, including how to classify virtual currencies sold through ICOs. In response to their efforts towards regulating the crypto markets, Gensler said:
“2018 is going to be a very interesting time. Over 1,000 previously issued initial coin offerings, and over 100 exchanges that offer I.C.O.s [sic], are going to need to sort out how to come into compliance with U.S. securities law.”
In response to Gensler’s claims, the head of the Ethereum Foundation, Aya Miyaguchi, clarified in an email to the New York Times that the foundation “neither controls the supply of nor has the ability to issue Ether, and the quantity of Ether that the foundation holds (under 1 percent of all Ether) is already lower than that held by many other ecosystem participants.” Gensler did note the ETH may be able to avoid a securities classification since the coins are now mined, but the fact that the Ethereum Foundation sold the coins before 2014 could be a problem.
Ripple spokesperson Tom Channick told The New York Times that XRP is not a security because it “does not give its owners and interest or stake in Ripple, and they are not paid dividends. XRP exists outside of Ripple, was created before the company and will exist after it.”
Gensler, who The New York Times notes does not hold any cryptocurrencies, believes that Blockchain will eventually change the traditional financial system, but not without some adjustments in the crypto sphere:
“I would be surprised if 10 years from now this isn’t somewhere in the financial system in a meaningful way. But so much of the stuff that is being promoted now will not be around.”
The CFTC and the SEC held a hearing on cryptocurrency regulation on Feb. 6, which concluded that ICOs will have stricter regulations and cryptocurrencies should be allowed room for growth. The SEC also launched its own probe into crypto-related businesses later in February.