News Roundup — Gensler says SEC is taking ‘new look’ at spot bitcoin ETF proposals

December 18, 2023

Major news stories this week;

  1. Gensler says SEC is taking ‘new look’ at spot bitcoin ETF proposals
  2. More firms set to add Bitcoin to balance sheets after major rule change
  3. El Salvador’s $1bn volcano-powered Bitcoin bonds greenlit for launch in early 2024
  4. 16 months later, Tether finally bends to OFAC
  5. UAE based crypto businesses can now tap commercial liability cover after Dubai Insurance move

Story Summaries;

  1. In an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Gensler said that the SEC is considering “between eight and a dozen filings” for a spot bitcoin ETF. “We had in the past denied a number of these applications, but the courts here in the District of Columbia weighed in on that. And so we’re taking a new look at this based upon those court rulings,” Gensler said. When asked if he was directly alluding to the Grayscale ruling, Gensler skirted the answer and said that the SEC does everything “within the laws Congress has passed and how the courts interpret them.”
  2. A new accounting rule change in the United States may lead to more firms adding Bitcoin to their balance sheets. The change allows companies to report gains on their crypto holdings, not just losses, which could give them more confidence to invest in Bitcoin. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) released the new rules on December 13, which will come into effect in December 2024. The rules will accurately represent the market value of crypto held by companies on their accounting books, allowing them to record gains when holding assets. Cory Klippsten, the CEO of Bitcoin-only exchange Swan Bitcoin, said that companies could now use Bitcoin as a “strategic financial asset,” as they would be able to report on their value gains and losses, a feature that could help drive adoption.
  3. El Salvador is on the cusp of releasing its much-anticipated $1 billion Volcano Bonds, expected in early 2024, following regulatory clearance. The Central American country’s Bitcoin Office said that it’s received regulatory approval from the Digital Assets Commission. The government aims to use geothermal energy from volcanoes for Bitcoin mining, and the proceeds were intended to fund an ambitious “Bitcoin City” project. The launch of the bonds was originally planned for March 2022 with a $100 minimum investment, but it has faced multiple delays since then. The government blamed these delays on various factors, including declining Bitcoin price and regulatory delays.
  4. Tether, last weekend, said it would be expanding its security protocols to freeze wallets associated with US-sanctioned individuals and entities. Starting this month, the stablecoin issuer has offered secondary market controls by freezing tokens held in wallets separate from its own platform, the company said in a statement. Tether has since frozen 161 wallets, including some linked to OFAC-sanctioned mixing service Tornado Cash, according to on-chain data. “The primary objective behind this approach is to proactively prevent any potential misuse of Tether tokens and enhance security measures,” Tether wrote in the Dec. 9 blog post.
  5. Dubai: Crypto businesses in the UAE will soon be getting some sort of safety net for their high stakes ventures. Dubai Insurance has signed up with Hong Kong based OneDegree to offer ‘digital asset insurance’ to such businesses. To start with, the partners will provide commercial liability insurance, and specifically ‘professional indemnity’ and ‘directors & officers’ insurance. They will also be seeking regulator approval to introduce more digital asset cover products in the UAE. OneDegree was among the pioneers in Asia when it came to being a licensed insurer for digital assets.

And that’s all for last week’s news! Wishing you a great week ahead!

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