As much of the crypto world descended upon Manhattan for Consensus:Invest this past week, it was a different atmosphere than a year ago, when bitcoin was on its way to $20,000. Many cryptos were down 90% from all-time highs, with Bitcoin and Ether both off 80%+. Gone was the euphoria and any talk of "lambos" to an environment which I prefer - where tourists are gone and the real builders and investors remain. Instead of party-hopping, attendees had more substantive conversations about the future. The usual barrage of press releases trickled to a few.
In his fireside chat with Silver Lake co-founder Glenn Hutchins,, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton started his remarks talking about the promise of distributed ledger technology (aka blockchain). He answered questions about recent SEC action against ICOs and delineated between decentralized tokens such as Bitcoin and Ether, and tokens which are controlled centrally and issued as an investment contract with the expectation of profit. He also touched upon the agency's concerns of market manipulation, transparency and custody - which would all need to be addressed before any digital asset ETFs will be approved.
The half hour conversation is worth a view.
It's a concise read on the SEC's perspective and provides clear guidance on their current thinking. There were no surprises in there, and my take is that the conversation re-iterates the agency is studying the nascent digital asset industry closely after their initial slow start in 2017. From an early stage startup perspective, clarity is good - although traders may see less arbitrage opportunities through increased transparency, the long-term evolution of the blockchain/crypto sectors is dependent on this clarity. We are also able to benefit from the global nature of this sector with regulatory "experimentation" in different jurisdictions around the world. 2019, I believe, will be one of the most exciting in terms of innovation. The stage is being set.