The crypto-space needs more regulation to grow, Novogratz says

Illustration picture of cryptocurrencies

By John McCrank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – More regulation of the cryptocurrency space is needed to help institutional investors become more comfortable with digital assets and have the burgeoning asset class really take off, Mike Novogratz, founder of crypto investment firm Galaxy Digital said on Wednesday.

“We need some regulation,” he said at a conference held by Piper Sandler. “That’s an unpopular opinion in crypto circles, but if you want to have institutions join the revolution, you need some regulation.”

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency, surged to almost $65,000 in April, but has since lost around half of its value.

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler, who taught a course on blockchain – the technology underpinning bitcoin – at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has said he would like to see more regulation around cryptocurrency exchanges.

The more clarity around cryptocurrencies, the better, said Novogratz, a former hedge fund manager at Fortress Investment Group and Goldman Sachs partner.

“We have a lot of non-bank banks in the space that if I was the head of the SEC, I would regulate,” he said. “They take in deposits, they have huge leverage, they have an asset-liability mismatch.”

He also said he would like to see the approval of a bitcoin exchange-traded fund, and for the SEC to create a “regulatory sandbox” – a testing ground for business models not protected by current regulation – where smaller companies could experiment with initial coin offerings, or fundraising.

The SEC has taken the position that initial coin offerings are securities offerings and therefore subject to the agency’s offering rules, which require companies to file registration and disclosure documents.

“They regulate by litigation,” Novogratz said of the SEC, “and that’s not a great way to regulate and so my pitch would be clarity, clarity, clarity.”

(Reporting by John McCrank; Editing by Andrea Ricci)