SEC Chairman: Cryptocurrencies Like Bitcoin Aren’t Securities, Most ICOs Are

  • SEC chairman Jay Clayton has recently argued that cryptocurrencies like bitcoin aren't considered securities, while most ICOs likely are.
  • Clayton refused to comment on whether Ethereum, Ripple, or other specific altcoins are securities, despite ongoing lawsuits.

US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairman Jay Clayton has recently revealed he believes cryptocurrencies like bitcoin aren’t securities as they replaced fiat currencies like the euro and the dollar. Most initial coin offering (ICO) tokens, however, are likely a security, he added.

During an interview with CNBC, Clayton revealed cryptocurrencies that can be used to replace fiat currencies aren’t securities, presumably because these aren’t created to give investors profits. He said:

“These are replacements for sovereign currencies, replace the dollar, the euro, the yen with bitcoin. That type of currency is not a security.”

Jay Clayton

As for tokens issued through initial coin offerings, Clayton argued most of these are likely securities, as these represent an investment in a potential venture that will affect their value, or can be sold after their initial sale for a profit in a secondary market.

Clayton added that the SEC’s job is to regulate the offering and trading of these securities. When CNBC’s interviewer Bob Pisani asked him whether the regulator plans on making a clear statement on what is or isn’t considered a security, Clayton said “I hope I just did.”

Per the SEC chairman’s words, the regulator won’t support changing the definition of a security to support ICOs, as it’s been “doing this for a long time” and built a “$9 trillion economy, a securities market that’s the envy of the world following these rules.”

He added:

“If you have an ICO or a stock, and you want to sell it in a private placement, follow the private placement rules. If you want to do an IPO with a token, come see us. File financial statements, file disclosure, take the responsibility our laws require.”

Jay Clayton

When asked whether specific altcoins – such as Ethereum and Ripple’s XRP - could be considered securities, Clayton said he wasn’t going to comment on these, referring Pasini back to his definition of a security.