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Ethereum Featured Stories

Ethereum Classified As “Not a Security” SEC States

In a significant announcement, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made it clear that Ethereum (ETH) would not be treated as a security. This decision, delivered by the Director of Corporate Finance, William Hinman, marks an important milestone for the Ethereum ecosystem and has far-reaching implications for the entire cryptocurrency market.

Understanding the SEC’s Ethereum Classification

The SEC’s decision to classify ETH as “not a security” is in line with Chairman Jay Clayton’s distinction between cryptocurrencies and digital tokens. While cryptocurrencies that serve as replacements for sovereign currencies are not considered securities, digital assets associated with ventures are often classified as securities. The SEC’s analysis of a digital asset is based on considering the entire economic reality surrounding it.

Hinman drew a parallel between utility tokens and the oranges in the landmark securities case, Howey v. SEC. He emphasized that the token itself is not a security, just as the orange groves in Howey were not. However, if a token is being purchased with an expectation of profit derived from the efforts of others, it may be considered a security.

The Decentralization Factor

Hinman’s speech also shed light on the significance of decentralization in determining whether a digital asset is a security. He highlighted that if a cryptocurrency is decentralized enough, purchasers would no longer reasonably expect a person or group to carry out essential managerial or entrepreneurial efforts. In such cases, the application of securities regulation may not provide adequate protection to investors.

To help analyze the level of decentralization, Hinman provided a non-exhaustive list of questions to consider:

  • Is there a person or group that has played a significant role in the development and maintenance of the asset?
  • Does this person or group retain a stake or interest in the asset, motivating them to increase its value?
  • Has the promoter raised funds in excess of what is needed to establish a functional network?
  • Are purchasers seeking a return on their investment?
  • Does the asset rely on a person or entity whose activities and plans are important to investors?
  • Do entities other than the promoter have governance rights or meaningful influence?

Impact on the Ethereum Ecosystem

The SEC has classified Ethereum as “not a security,” providing regulatory clarity and certainty for developers, businesses, and investors. This clarity encourages innovation and growth of decentralized applications built on Ethereum. The classification reduces the regulatory burden and legal risks associated with token offerings and transactions on the Ethereum network, paving the way for continued development and adoption of the Ethereum blockchain, thus fostering the evolution of the Ethereum ecosystem.

Guidelines for Token Ecosystems

The SEC’s classification of Ethereum tokens is not exhaustive and does not necessarily indicate that a token is not being offered as a security. Tokens built on Ethereum must consider factors such as user needs, independent pricing, clear intent for personal use, and distribution to meet user requirements. While the SEC’s classification provides some guidance, there is still room for interpretation and case-by-case analysis. As the Ethereum ecosystem evolves, token issuers and developers should seek legal counsel and stay updated on regulatory developments to ensure compliance with relevant securities laws.


The SEC has classified Ethereum as “not a security,” marking a significant step forward for the Ethereum ecosystem and the cryptocurrency market. This decision provides clarity and certainty, allowing developers, businesses, and investors to operate with confidence. The future of the Ethereum ecosystem and blockchain industry will be shaped by ongoing developments.



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