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US Government Accountability Office offers SEC recommendations post-Bitcoin ETF approval

us-government-accountability-office-offers-sec-recommendations-post-bitcoin-etf-approval
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US Government Accountability Office offers SEC recommendations post-Bitcoin ETF approval

A US watchdog notes that the SEC’s specialized unit for emerging technologies is not fully prepared to meet current challenges.

On Dec. 15, the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) proposed three primary action plans to the Securities and Exchange Commission to take in the wake of approving 11 spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) on Jan. 10.

The advised strategies were centered around managing the workforce for the digital asset market and guiding the regulator’s approach to the burgeoning industry in the upcoming years.

The report found that despite having 116 staff members working on crypto-related issues, the SEC has not updated its workforce planning strategy since 2019. To address this, the US watchdog suggested the preparation of a new strategy aligned with the agency’s 2022–2026 strategic and performance plans.

The report also noted that the SEC’s FinHub, which is instrumental in managing emerging technology oversight, is missing documented policies, procedures, and performance targets. Although FinHub conducts activities such as meetings with market players, it has not formalized policies and procedures for its internal controls.

In response to these findings, the GAO recommended three key execution plans:

  • The SEC chief should direct the chief Human capital officer to prepare a new workforce planning strategy
  • The FinHub Director should document policies and procedures to support internal controls
  • The SEC chair should ensure the development of objective, measurable, and targeted performance goals and measures for FinHub

These recommendations are tracked with a live status section to monitor the SEC’s progress.

The SEC’s approval of the spot Bitcoin ETFs marks a significant shift in its stance following nearly five years of rejections. The internal document from the SEC revealed a vote of three to one in favor of the approval, with SEC chief Gary Gensler casting the decisive vote.

Peter Schiff, a well-known Bitcoin skeptic and gold enthusiast, expressed that the SEC chief was cornered into approving the spot Bitcoin ETF. He also cautioned that Gensler might soon implement stringent cryptocurrency regulations, significantly raising Bitcoin transaction costs, thus weakening its practicality and potentially leading to a notable drop in its value.

Despite these apprehensions, spot Bitcoin ETFs witnessed an impressive trading volume of $1.8 billion on Jan. 16, significantly surpassing the combined volume of all 500 ETFs launched in 2023 by more than three times.

Looking ahead, the cryptocurrency market is keenly anticipating the Bitcoin halving in April and the potential inflows into BTC-related traditional finance (TradFi) investment vehicles. While Wall Street stalwarts like JP Morgan foresee a staggered capital interest, crypto-native entities like Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital expect massive price surges of up to 74%.

Addressing predictions of up to $100 billion flowing into BTC markets in the first year, Bloomberg’s James Seyffart estimated a more modest inflow of $10 to $15 billion. He suggested that this capital might come from both new investments in Bitcoin and shifts from other sources, such as Canadian ETFs, crypto mining ventures, and futures-based financial products.

The projected figures could fluctuate based on various elements, such as the forthcoming 2024 U.S. presidential elections and political changes in around 50 other countries.

Attention may now shift to Ethereum (ETH), which boasts its own ETF frenzy and upcoming technological upgrades.