Should Charles Schwab choose to give all its clients access to cryptocurrency, it would open up the new asset class to its 31.9 million brokerage accounts. “These innovations have been a catalyst for change. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have brought new thinking to payments and financial inclusion, but they’ve also raised new issues of investor protection that we still need to attend to,” said Gensler during a Congressional hearing in early March. “If Charles Schwab, the company, decides to participate in the crypto market, we will be highly competitive, we will be disruptive, and we will be client-oriented,” Bettinger said.
The new SEC chair, Gary Gensler, was a professor at MIT for a course called ‘Blockchain and Money.’ His experience with blockchain and cryptocurrency has left many hopeful that regulation on the industry is around the corner and that it will be relatively fair. The SEC has been slow to draft regulations on the growing industry, leaving some cautious retail brokerages behind their counterparts who have already offered digital assets.
Gensler has had positive comments on cryptocurrency, but that they have raised new issues. “We would like to see more regulatory clarity,” said Schwab’s Chief Executive Officer Walt Bettinger on a call with analysts. “And if and when that comes, you should expect Schwab to be a player in that space in the same way it has been a player in other investment opportunities across the spectrum.”
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