On October 31, 2023, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler posted a provocative tweet commemorating the 15th anniversary of the publication of the Bitcoin whitepaper by its pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
In the tweet, Gensler playfully pondered whether anyone would be able to recognize Satoshi if he went out incognito for Halloween. He then urged crypto companies to stop “tricking investors” and start complying with securities laws.
The Mysterious origins of Bitcoin
Fifteen years ago today, on October 31, 2008, the Bitcoin whitepaper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was posted to a cryptography mailing list by Satoshi Nakamoto. The paper outlined a vision for a decentralized digital currency powered by a network of users with no centralized authority.
While the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto remains one of the biggest mysteries in cryptography, the paper kickstarted the cryptocurrency revolution. In January 2009, Satoshi mined the genesis block of the Bitcoin blockchain and launched the network.
Over the next few years, Satoshi continued to collaborate with early Bitcoin developers and miners before suddenly disappearing in mid-2010. Since then, there has been much speculation but no definitive proof regarding Satoshi’s real-world identity. The disappearance only added to the enigmatic persona of Bitcoin’s founder.
Despite its founder remaining unknown, Bitcoin has grown dramatically from an obscure experiment into a global phenomenon with a market cap exceeding $1 trillion.
Yet, as Chair Gensler noted, regulators are still working to keep pace with innovations in the crypto space. Much of the industry’s growth has preceded clear regulatory frameworks.
Gensler called for crypto companies to begin complying with investor protection laws, highlighting SEC efforts to provide guidance to brokers and trading platforms on registering with the agency. The SEC has targeted companies making false promises to retail investors and taken dozens of enforcement actions against allegedly fraudulent crypto providers.
Following the collapse of FTX, regulators have tightened their scrutiny of the cryptocurrency industry. Top players, including Coinbase and Binance, have also been under the radar of regulators, while the industry has been demanding clearer regulations.