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Former CFTC Head Believes Ether, Ripple Should be Viewed as Securities

Ethereum and Ripple, the platforms backing ether (ETH) and XRP, two of the largest digital currencies, should be viewed as securities, according to Gary Gensler, the former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Gensler “said that government officials should take a closer look at the largest coins by market capitalization, not just at tokens sold in ICOs. Ethereum’s Ether and Ripple’s XRP could probably be classified as securities,” reports Bloomberg.

At this writing Tuesday, ETH and XRP are the second- and third-largest digital currencies, respectively. Bitcoin is the largest. ETH currently has a market capitalization of $69.68 billion while XRP’s market value is $36.32 billion. Ethereum’s market value is bigger than the fourth- through eighth-largest alt-coins combined.

The Smell Test

Many market observers believe traditional currencies are stores of value and have transactional purposes with critics asserting that digital currencies do not meet those standards and that the crypto space is far more volatile than the traditional currency universe. Gensler has a different opinion.

“One of the ways regulators determine if an asset is a security is with the so-called Howey Test,” according to Bloomberg. “For Gensler, buying Ripple’s XRP and Ether meets the requirements of the test as there’s an investment of money in a common enterprise, and the expectation of profit which comes from the efforts of a third party. The common enterprise for Ripple would be Ripple Labs, and for ether it would be the Ethereum Foundation, Gensler said.”

He said that there is a particularly strong case for Ripple because Ether is already more decentralized. Still, Ripple itself does not believe XRP should be classified as a security ownership in XRP does not give those investors a stake in Ripple, as Bloomberg notes.

One reason Gensler argues for ETH and XRP being classified as securities is because they were introduced via initial coin offerings (ICOs). On that basis, bitcoin, bitcoin cash and litecoin would not be eligible for securities classification.

Classifying digital currencies as securities in the U.S. would likely increase already heavy-handed regulatory scrutiny of the asset class. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has all but blocked ICOs in the U.S. and bars companies and fund managers from using “blockchain” in fund titles and company names.

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