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Gary Gensler confirmed as new SEC Chairman: Reports

The US Senate confirmed Gary Gensler as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Gensler, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), was confirmed by a vote of 53 to 45.

Gensler received support from only three Republicans, reflecting their apprehension towards an agenda that is expected to make disclosures from public companies stricter with regards to environmental impact, the report added. Bitcoin proponent Cynthia Lummis is one of the three Republicans who voted in favour.

According to the report, Gensler is credited with improving the market’s resilience with the set of rules he implemented when he led the CFTC. He is also known to be a hard-nosed negotiator who succeeded in overhauling the swaps market after the financial crisis. Progressives hope he follows a similar agenda and brings back some of the investor protections that were taken away under the Trump administration, the report added.

Gensler assumes office at a time when his agency is dealing with a number of high-profile issues including the recent GameStop trading frenzy, a boom in special-purpose acquisition companies, and how to regulate cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have brought new thinking to payments and financial inclusion: Gensler

Gensler is a professor at MIT and researches and teaches on blockchain technology, digital currencies, and financial technology. As the new SEC chair, Gensler will play a key role in shaping regulations governing the cryptocurrency industry. During his confirmation hearing last month, Gensler said “Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have brought new thinking to payments and financial inclusion, but they’ve also raised new issues of investor protection that we still need to attend to. If confirmed at the SEC, I’d work with fellow commissioners to both promote the new innovation, but also at the core to ensure investor protection.”

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Many in the cryptocurrency industry are looking for more clarity on the SEC’s position. Even if Gensler track record suggests that he will bring more regulations, he is expected to bring some clarity nevertheless. “It’s important for the SEC to provide guidance and clarity. Sometimes that’s a clarity that will be a thumbs up, but even if it’s thumbs down, it’s important to provide that,” Gensler said in his hearing.

He has been vocal about some of the key issues in the cryptocurrency space. In 2018, he called Ripple a “non-compliant security” and said some of the initial coin offerings might violate security laws. His agency is currently fighting a lawsuit against Ripple, which the SEC has accused of violating security laws.

According to the National Law Review, Gensler will probably bring a more nuanced view to some of the issues surrounding digital assets such as the custody of digital assets and issuance of cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Several Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are currently awaiting SEC approval after former SEC chairman Jay Clayton rejected numerous applications under his leadership.

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