SEC Pushes for Ethereum Security Label, Killing Ether ETF Hopes

The SEC is reportedly investigating whether Ethereum should be classified as a security, raising uncertainty for the crypto industry.

Gary Gensler getting ready to shoot a bird with a shotgun on his shoulder.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • The SEC has been investigating Ethereum to see if it should be classified as a security.
  • The approval of Ether futures ETFs has contradicted Gensler’s hints about proof-of-stake tokens being securities.
  • The SEC’s lack of engagement with issuers for spot Ether ETFs has suggested upcoming rejections.

The cryptocurrency industry is facing renewed regulatory uncertainty as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reportedly launched an investigation into whether Ethereum, the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, should be classified as a security. 

SEC Targets Ethereum, Challenges Classification

Details of the investigation emerged after several companies received subpoenas from the SEC requesting documents and financial records related to their dealings with the Ethereum Foundation, the non-profit organization overseeing the Ethereum blockchain. The SEC’s push for stricter cryptocurrency regulations aligns with the Biden administration’s efforts. 

However, the legal landscape remains murky. Bitcoin, for instance, is generally considered a commodity overseen by the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). However, SEC Chair Gary Gensler has argued that most other cryptocurrencies, including Ethereum, should be classified as securities.


This stance marks a shift from the SEC’s previous position. In 2018, former SEC official William Hinman declared Ether, Ethereum’s native token, not a security. With Ethereum’s transition to a “proof-of-stake” validation system in September 2022 and Gensler’s arrival, a change in direction seems to have been triggered.

While Gensler has hinted that proof-of-stake tokens might be securities, he’s avoided directly commenting on Ethereum’s status. The situation became even more complex with the SEC’s approval of nine ETFs tracking Ether futures, suggesting it might be a commodity.

Spot Ether ETF Applications Face Hurdles

Adding another layer of confusion, the crypto firm Prometheum recently announced plans to offer custody services for Ethereum as a security under SEC oversight. This move has reignited the debate about Ether’s classification. Some speculate that the SEC might be using Prometheum as a test case to ultimately classify Ethereum as a security.


The recent push by major financial institutions for a spot Ether ETF has brought the issue to a critical point. With the SEC’s deadline to respond to these applications approaching in May, analysts expect rejections due to the lack of engagement between the SEC and issuers, unlike the approval process for Bitcoin ETFs. 

On the Flipside

  • The Ethereum Foundation argues that Ether is a decentralized utility token used to pay transaction fees and access computational resources on the network, not an investment contract.
  • The SEC’s mixed signals with ETF approvals and investigations create uncertainty for businesses and investors.

Why This Matters

The SEC’s inquiry into Ethereum’s security status casts uncertainty over the cryptocurrency market, potentially altering Ethereum’s trading dynamics and institutional engagement and establishing a precedent for regulating other proof-of-stake tokens. With Ether ETF applications facing potential rejection, clarifying Ethereum’s status becomes pivotal for the crypto industry.

To learn more about the legal issues surrounding the Ethereum Foundation, read here:

Ethereum Foundation Under Investigation by Unknown Authority

To learn more about the potential turning point for cryptocurrency ETF regulations, read here:

Grayscale Amends Ether ETF Filing for NYSE Arca Listing

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Kyle Calvert

Kyle Calvert is a cryptocurrency news reporter for DailyCoin, specializing in Ripple, stablecoins, as well as price and market analysis news. Before his current role, Kyle worked as a student researcher in the cryptocurrency industry, gaining an understanding of how digital currencies work, their potential uses, and their impact on the economy and society. He completed his Masters and Honors degrees in Blockchain Technology within Esports and Business and Event management within Esports at Staffordshire University.