SEC Chairman Jay Clayton will step down from his role by the end of 2020. Crypto-friendly Gary Gensler is among the rumored replacements.
United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton will step down from his role by the year’s end. Clayton confirmed his departure as the head of the body, which published a press release on Nov 16.
Clayton started his role as Chairman of the SEC in 2017 and is one of the longest-serving individuals in the position. His tenure included decisions on increasing consumer protection, investment opportunities, and capital raising for businesses of all sizes.
He praised his colleagues and touted the achievements of the past three-and-a-half years, saying;
“Working alongside the incredibly talented and driven women and men of the SEC has been the highlight of my career…thanks to the hard work of the diverse and inclusive SEC team, we have improved investor protections, promoted capital formation for small and larger businesses, and enabled our markets to function more transparently and efficiently.”
Clayton Was Mostly Supportive of Crypto Innovation
Clayton has been mostly supportive of blockchain innovations and their cryptocurrency counterparts, though he has emphasized that consumer protection comes first. In Dec. 2017, Clayton issued an official statement telling would-be digital asset investors to “be wary.”
Two years later, in December 2019, he told the United States Senate that he was optimistic about developments with distributed ledger technologies. Specifically, he said that the SEC is taking a measured approach that would foster innovation and aid capital formation.
The agency has also been cracking down on several projects, during the last few months of Clayton’s tenure. These have mostly dealt with assets that, according to the regulatory authority, function as securities.
Prominent examples of these lawsuits include Telegram’s TON, which was consequently shut down, and Kik, which settled for $5 million.
Clayton had never particularly opposed cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, though he was emphatic about consumer protection. The most telling sign of his support came in October 2020, when he said that cryptocurrency ETFs could soon be a reality.
Crypto-Friendly Gary Gensler a Crowd Favorite
Speculation has emerged concerning who might replace Clayton, and many crypto proponents appear to be rooting for Gary Gensler. Other individuals touted to succeed Clayton include former Democratic SEC Commissioner Kara Stein and former Democratic Commissioner Rob Jackson.
Gensler is currently working with President-elect Joe Biden to lead the incoming administration’s financial policy transition. As a Wall Street veteran, Gensler has taught courses at MIT about blockchain and even refers to Bitcoin as a form of digital gold.
Cryptocurrency supporters will undoubtedly wish for Gensler to usurp the role, which could have a big impact on how the body approaches market regulation. On the whole, the outlook is optimistic for the market as far as Clayton’s successor is concerned.