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During a Wednesday morning interview with CNBC, SEC Chair Gary Gensler again reiterated that the approval of Bitcoin ETF in January was not an endorsement of the digital asset itself.

Last month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved nearly a dozen spot Bitcoin ETFs. While the crypto faithful saw this as capitulation, Gensler said this was not the case.

“We’ve had similar products, in gold and silver, ETFs they’re technically Exchange Traded Products (ETP). We approve a group of about 11 at one time; this was not the first way you could buy or express a risk in Bitcoin.

“As we like to say, we’re merit-neutral,” he continued. “This was not in any way an approval of Bitcoin that existed—it’s just how to trade it in these Exchange Traded products.“

The SEC chair reiterated his stance that most cryptocurrencies are unregistered securities and highlighted the agency’s responsibility to protect investors from fraud and market manipulation.

“We have an investor education responsibility at the SEC, particularly about those investments that are non-compliant with either the securities or other commodities laws,” Gensler said. “So here we have an asset class of 15 to 20,000 crypto tokens, many of which, without prejudging anyone, many of which are actually something called investment contracts or securities.”

Gensler pushed back on the assertion that trading stocks are as risky as investing in cryptocurrency, saying that regulation has removed much of that risk.

“This is a field that’s been rife with fraud and manipulation,” Gensler said. “Look at all the bankruptcies, and it’s not just one entity; it’s entity after entity, and then investors are just lining up in the bankruptcy court.”

While Gensler noted the distributed technology underpinning Bitcoin, he highlighted cryptocurrency’s use in illicit activities, including ransomware and money laundering.

Gensler said that while the SEC approved Bitcoin ETFs, that does not necessarily mean other cryptocurrency-based ETFs will be approved.

“What we did in January was cabin to one set of filings,” he said. “We have other filings in front of us, but I’m not going to prejudge it. That’s something that a five-member commission discusses and reviews,” he concluded.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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