Dashing hopes of greater regulatory clarity for the cryptocurrency industry, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s recently released annual regulatory agenda — which guides the agency’s short- and long-term work — does not mention Bitcoin or cryptocurrency regulations.

Fast facts:

  • The SEC’s agenda was part of the Biden administration’s “Spring 2021 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Action,” released this month.
  • “To meet our mission of protecting investors, maintaining fair, orderly, and efficient markets, and facilitating capital formation, the SEC has a lot of regulatory work ahead of us,” said SEC Chair Gary Gensler in a statement. Gensler had been widely expected to bring regulatory clarity to the digital asset space, especially with a growing list of Bitcoin ETFs awaiting approval and the ongoing SEC v. Ripple Labs lawsuit.
  • Gensler has made comments in the past about the need for the SEC to provide greater clarity, and for consumer protection, with regard to cryptocurrencies. “Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have brought new thinking to payments and financial inclusion. But they’ve also raised new issues of investor protection that we still need to attend to,” Gensler said at his nomination hearing before the Senate Banking Committee in March. “It’s important for the SEC to provide guidance and clarity.”
  • Two SEC commissioners, Hester Peirce and Elad Roisman, issued a joint public statement saying: “the agenda is missing some other important rulemakings, including rules to provide clarity for digital assets … Perhaps the absence of these rules is attributable to the regrettable decision to spend our scarce resources to undo a number of rules the commission just adopted.”
  • Separately, U.S. Congresswoman Maxine Waters this week announced the formation of a Digital Assets Working Group of Democratic Members to look into cryptocurrency regulation, the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technology, and the possible development of a U.S. central bank digital currency.