US SEC Schedules Public Forum on Blockchain and Cryptocurrency for March 31, 2019

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The United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced that it will be hosting a fintech forum focused on blockchain technology on May 31, 2019.

In a tweet dated March 15, the financial regulator said that its staff would use the platform to discuss distributed ledger technology and digital assets.

Notably, this is the second time the SEC is hosting a forum dedicated to the cryptocurrency industry, with the first instance being in 2016.

Is the SEC Embracing Cryptocurrency?

In an official press release, the SEC said that the forum will be hosted by its Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub). Launched late last year, the hub seeks to increase public access to new technologies such as digital assets, automated investment advice, and artificial intelligence.

The SEC forum scheduled for May 31 will reportedly feature panelist engagement from both the cryptocurrency industry and academia. The agency hopes that this will foster greater communication and understanding around distributed ledger technology and the cryptocurrency market. This will include discussions on various topics related to the industry, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), digital asset platforms, and new startups.

The forum will also take a look at how these technologies affect the investing public and the entire asset class.

The SEC has issued numerous warnings to investors regarding fraudulent schemes and scams in the cryptocurrency industry so far. In 2018, the agency launched a mock ICO to depict telltale signs of bogus token sales. The website featured a vague white paper on the company’s promises, a guaranteed return on investment, and a countdown urging investors to participate in the deal before the sale concluded.

Bitcoin ETF: No Decision in Sight

In spite of the announcement of the agency’s willingness to discuss the latest developments in the cryptocurrency market, the SEC does not appear to have changed its mind on Bitcoin-related exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Last year, it rejected numerous ETF proposals that were put forth by reputed investment firms, including Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss-owned Gemini cryptocurrency exchange.

In an exclusive interview with Fox Business on March 14, 2019, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said that he was not sold on the concept of financial products tailored for the cryptocurrency market. According to him, proposers still cannot reasonably demonstrate that the underlying asset is resistant to manipulation and can be traded or stored reliably. That said, he remains open to the idea sometime in the future.

When do you think the SEC will approve a Bitcoin ETF? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! 


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