Cryptocurrencies Surge as Debate Over Digital Tokens, Securities Reignites

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EXCLUSIVE— Cryptocurrencies are experiencing one of their highest points in recent weeks, after remarks made by former financial regulator Gary Gensler brought back concerns that certain tokens should really be considered securities.

The remarks point to a reoccurring debate among cryptocurrency aficionados about the nature of digital currency, which is having its first positive movements in months: bitcoin, ether, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple are all up at the time of this reporting, after months of a slump in value.

Bitcoin is trading at $9,265, up 3.5%, as of 10:40am ET. Ripple’s XRP, the third largest cryptocurrency in the world, is up 4.41%, trading at just under a dollar ($.091) in value, according to CoinMarketCap.

In an interview to the New York Times prior to a speech at MIT, Gensler noted that there “is a strong case” for both Ether and Ripple—but “particularly Ripple,” he said, “that they are noncompliant securities.”

As such, they would be subject to the same regulations that govern securities, making their current trade and issuance a violation of such laws.

Both Ripple and Ether have market caps in the billions at the moment, with Ether’s total value capping at about $65 billion, while Ripple’s is around $35 billion.

Of course, Gensler is a former regulator, so his comments don’t specifically speak to a turn in U.S. policy when it comes to cryptocurrency.

However, as these are two of the most valuable cryptocurrencies currently trading, second only to bitcoin — which Gensler does not consider a security — the interview spawned some debate among crypto enthusiasts, most of whom rejected the idea that Ripple’s token, XRP, is anything but a digital asset:

Others were a bit more skeptical, as one can tell in this thread below:

Gensler’s remarks come at time when several nations are debating the future of cryptocurrency in their borders, with some banning the trade of digital tokens outright while others debate centralization and privacy issues.

Bank Innovation has reached out to Ripple for further comment.

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