SEC chair Gensler calls for more regulation on stablecoins and crypto firms' custody, market-making arms

The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering new firewalls for custody and market-making businesses at crypto firms and pushing for more SEC oversight of stablecoins.

During an April 4 speech to the University of Pennsylvania's law school, SEC chair Gary Gensler said: 

"Unlike traditional exchanges, currently centralized crypto trading platforms generally take custody of their customers’ assets. Last year, more than $14 billion of value was stolen. I’ve asked staff how to work with platforms to get them registered and regulated and best ensure the protection of customers’ assets, in particular whether it would be appropriate to segregate out custody."

Gensler continued to apply similar logic to crypto exchanges' market-making functions, many of which trade with users on their own platforms from their own accounts. 


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Elsewhere in the speech, Gensler expressed concerns about stablecoins, appearing to call out USDT and USDC in all but name for their lack of redemption rights: 

"The three largest stablecoins were created by trading or lending platforms themselves, and U.S. retail investors have no direct right of redemption for the two largest stablecoins by market capitalization. There are conflicts of interest and market integrity questions that would benefit from more oversight."

Stablecoins have been at the center of regulatory attention in the US for much of the past year, especially since the President's Working Group on Financial Markets put out its report calling for stablecoin issuance to be restricted to "insured depository institutions" in November. The largest, Tether's USDT, has faced particular scrutiny for its operational opacity. 

Since confirmation as chairman, Gensler has consistently pushed for broader SEC authority over crypto exchanges, generally arguing that they already fall within the SEC's mandate without the need for new laws. "We ought to apply these same protections in the crypto markets," he said to conclude today's speech. 

About Author

Kollen Post is a senior reporter at The Block, covering all things policy and geopolitics from Washington, DC. That includes legislation and regulation, securities law and money laundering, cyber warfare, corruption, CBDCs, and blockchain’s role in the developing world. He speaks Russian and Arabic. You can send him leads at [email protected].