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Gary Gensler’s Shift on Bitcoin ETFs: From Critic to Regulator

A resurfaced video from 2019 has revealed that Gary Gensler, the current head of the United States SEC, criticized the SEC's "inconsistent" approach to spot Bitcoin products in the past.

by Isaac lane
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Gensler

A recently unearthed video from 2019 has brought to light Gary Gensler‘s prior criticism of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), where he expressed reservations about the regulator’s handling of spot Bitcoin products. This video, featuring Gensler’s address at the MIT Bitcoin Expo, has drawn attention for its contrast with his current stance on spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

A Shift in Perspective

In the video, Gensler engaged in a fireside chat with SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce, discussing blockchain regulation. He highlighted the presence of Bitcoin futures and the absence of Bitcoin ETFs at that time, deeming this situation “inconsistent.” Gensler pointed out the similarities in the regulatory framework governing Bitcoin and Ethereum futures and ETFs. This rediscovered video has sparked inquiries into the evolution of his stance since assuming the role of SEC chairman.

SEC’s Current Approach to Bitcoin ETFs

Since Gary Gensler assumed the helm, the SEC has consistently denied, delayed, or pushed back applications for spot Bitcoin ETFs. Concerns regarding market manipulation and investor protection have been cited as reasons for these actions. Notably, the SEC has approved Bitcoin and Ethereum futures ETFs, yet spot Bitcoin ETFs have not received the green light.

A prominent case involving asset manager Grayscale further underscores the contentious landscape. Grayscale filed a lawsuit against the SEC after the rejection of its proposal to convert its existing Bitcoin trust into a spot ETF. In a legal ruling, the SEC’s denial was deemed “unjustifiably arbitrary.” Importantly, the SEC opted not to challenge this verdict on appeal.

The rediscovery of this video has ignited discussions within the cryptocurrency community. Some have highlighted the apparent inconsistency between Gensler’s earlier comments and his current approach to Bitcoin ETFs.

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