Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gary Gensler, spoke before the European Parliament on Wednesday and offered his policy recommendations on the regulation of crypto assets.
Speaking to the Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, Gensler pointed to impact of financial technologies on globalizing economic flows. He said:
“I think the transformation we’re living through right now could be every bit as big as the internet in the 1990s.”
According to Gensler the cryptocurrency markets, worth $2.1 trillion, is a “truly global” asset class:
“It has no borders or boundaries. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”
Gensler did not say something new and mainly repeated what he has been saying for weeks when it comes to regulation. Nonetheless, he was challenged when Finnish EU representative, Eero Heinäluoma, asked him about crypto’s carbon footprint.
Heinäluoma raised the Bitcoin network’s energy consumption and said it was greater than The Netherlands and Sweden combined and exceeds “the total greenhouse gas emission reductions of electric vehicles.”
Gensler acknowledged Bitcoin’s environmental toll as a significant “challenge,” and also noted the increasing popularity of more energy efficient Proof-of-Stake (PoS) based crypto networks such as Ethereum and Cardano. He confirmed that these concerns will be taken into consideration as both Bitcoin and the PoS networks will rise in popularity.
The SEC chairman continued expressing the need of clear policy frameworks to protect investors. He said that DeFi and crypto have been “rife with fraud, scams, and abuse,” and emphasized the vulnerability of the investing public in the absence of “clear investor protections obligations on these platforms.”
The same concerns were raised about stablecoins as Gensler estimated that almost three-quarters of crypto trading volumes involve stable token pairings. He also said that stablecoins are facilitating “those seeking to sidestep a host of public policy goals” including anti-money laundering safeguards and international sanctions.
“You’ve heard about Facebook Diem, but we already have an existing stablecoin market worth $116 billion,” he concluded.
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