On Day of Coinbase Listing, SEC Chair Gary Gensler Takes the Helm

  • Gary Gensler has been approved by the Senate to lead the SEC.
  • He has a background in crypto, after teaching an MIT course on blockchain, and previously calling Bitcoin a “catalyst for change.”

Gary Gensler has been approved by the United States Senate to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The approval comes on the same day that Coinbase goes public on the Nasdaq.

Coinbase’s listing is not the only big story happening in the crypto sphere today. Gensler—who is very familiar with the crypto industry—has been approved by the Senate as the SEC’s next chairman. He has previously taught a course on Bitcoin and blockchain

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Technology Guides
Matt Hussey

technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The Senate vote passed by a count of 53-45 on Wednesday.

What can we expect from a Gensler-led SEC?

Gary Gensler has frequently been touted as a crypto-friendly candidate for SEC chairman—or, at least, a candidate who is very familiar with the industry.

Other than teaching “Blockchain and Money” at MIT, Gensler penned an op-ed for CoinDesk in December of 2020. In that op-ed, he described Bitcoin as a “catalyst for change,” but he also observed how the cryptocurrency is prone to scams and manipulation.

With a resume that includes significant background in crypto, many big names in the industry have high hopes for a Gensler-led SEC. Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications director and co-founder of Skybridge Capital, told Decrypt that the US could see a Bitcoin ETF in a year if Gensler takes control of the regulator.

Bitcoin ETF (exchange traded fund) allows investors to buy into the fund—and gain exposure to Bitcoin as a result—without having to trade the cryptocurrency directly. The SEC is yet to approve a Bitcoin ETF, but if and when that happens, large swathes of institutional investment could follow as investors get to sidestep the complex storage and security procedures required to hold Bitcoin directly.

“I’m hoping that with the introduction of Gary Gensler now into the regulatory rubric, and my understanding of where he’s coming from, although I don’t know it personally, is that possibly we can get an ETF in place by the end of the year,” Scaramucci said.

Gensler has also previously committed to reviewing if firms have “gamified” trading—a subject that captured the attention of most market observers during the saga between GameStop stock traders and Robinhood.

Back in President Obama’s first presidential term, Gensler was chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). As a result, he was heavily involved in crafting the regulations that followed the 2008 Financial Crisis.

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