Nasdaq, the SEC and the Stars: Cryptocurrency Comments this Week

The heads of both the SEC and Nasdaq see the technology as here to stay.


Adina Friedman, CEO of Nasdaq, told CNN yesterday that “the jury is still out” on which cryptocurrencies will be successful, but that one will be is not – a more efficient global payment system is a necessity for the modern world.

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Nasdaq is the second largest currency exchange in the world, with a market capitalisation of $9 trillion.

She said: “Are the governments going to start to embrace it? Or are they still going to have it sit outside the realm of their oversight? That’s the real question that’s yet to be answered. I think the technology is fascinating and it’s a very sound technology. It’s just a matter of making sure that the community is all embracing it together.”

She recently said that once the market is regulated, “certainly Nasdaq would consider becoming a crypto exchange.”

Securities or not

Hester M. Pierce, Commissioner of the US Securities and Exchange Commission as of January 2018, indicated in a speech last week concerning the classification and regulation of ICOs that the agency considers cryptocurrency a long-term development which needs guidance.

The SEC’s decision as to the classification of cryptocurrency is very significant in the US because it will determine what laws and taxes are applied on their transaction. Ripple, for example, is currently facing a lawsuit the central theme of which is this ambiguity.

The first point of Pierce’s speech was explaining that money can come in different forms. She drew a comparison with arcade tokens, which are not money but can be exchanged for a ride or a game, so that in function “they have very clear money-like characteristics.”

But when it comes to cryptocurrency: “In physical terms, they’re a set of code. In functional terms, well, it depends. And that’s the challenge.”

She distinguished between three concepts: cryptocurrencies, tokens, and ICOs. Of coins like Bitcoin she said: “They may be currency, commodities, or something else, but it is unlikely that, on their own, they’re actually securities.” Utility tokens she also recognised as a form of exchange.

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However, ICOs for Pierce are possibly securities, or at least “look the most like securities.”

Securities in the US were defined in a 1946 case (SEC vs. Howey) as an investment in a common enterprise with the expectation of profits solely through the efforts of another.

“There is a way of figuring this out,” she said confidently, but in reality, real conclusions there were few. She said that while ICOs most resemble securities they are not necessarily so, and each must be evaluated on a case by case basis. She said that she doesn’t like regulatory sandboxes (“the regulator is typically sitting right there next to the entrepreneurs”), but is not against them either.

“The best path forward is for regulators to approach ICOs and tokens with intense curiosity.”

She recommended “setting up a web page devoted to questions and comments about ICOs, tokens, distributed ledger, and other crypto concepts.”

Here comes the science

And finally, an American football player called Ricky Williams is looking to Uranus for financial advice. He told CNBC that the revolutionary aspect of Uranus appearing in the season of Taurus, a sign traditionally connected with finance, got him interested in Bitcoin. “When I look at things, I tend to look at astrology to get insight,” he said to CNBC‘s Make It.

His analysis led him to purchase $50,000 in Bitcoin. Regarding the volatility of the coin, he said: “Especially with the planet Uranus and change, [it’s] always going to be volatile in the beginning. But, still, it’s more of a conscious choice to contribute to the change. If I do well, then great. If not, I’ll still feel like I did my part to contribute to things moving forward.”

He added that Pluto is passing through Capricorn which “is about our structures, like banks for instance.”

Williams is a professional astrologer who charges $300 for a 90-minute reading.

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