Sounding more bullish on the cryptocurrency than he has in years, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton said Thursday the inefficiencies of modern payment systems are “driving the rise of bitcoin.”

  • Speaking on CNBC, Clayton, who's stepping down at the end of the year, said: "What we are seeing is that our current payment mechanisms domestically and internationally have inefficiencies. Those inefficiencies are the things that are driving the rise of bitcoin."
  • Bitcoin was trading a tick below $18,000 at press time Thursday as the bull run continues to drive the cryptocurrency near all-time highs.
  • Clayton rebutted interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin's suggestion that bitcoin could ever be regulated as a security. Bitcoin "was much more a payment mechanism and stored value" than a security, he said.
  • That doesn't mean the SEC is comfortable with the crypto quite yet. Under Clayton, the SEC has repeatedly blocked a number of potential bitcoin exchange-traded funds from launching.
  • Clayton nevertheless seemed to echo JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's Wednesday prediction that regulators would eventually come knocking as bitcoin continues to grow.
  • "I think we're going to see this mature and I think we're going to see more regulation around the payments space," he said.
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