Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse garnered attention with his sharp criticism of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler during an on-stage interview at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland this week.
But it was his non-answer on a potential XRP ETF that got many tongues wagging.
Appearing for a “fireside chat ” moderated by Arjun Kharpal of CNBC, Garlinghouse called Gensler “a political liability” and said the SEC chief “is not acting in the best interest of the citizenry” when it comes to crypto regulation and policymaking.
He predicted that “at some point, there will be a new chair of the SEC, and I think that will be a good thing for the American people.”
Garlinghouse and his company, Ripple Labs, have been fighting an ongoing legal battle with the SEC since December 2020 over allegations that Ripple conducted an unregistered securities offering by selling XRP, the native digital token of the XRP Ledger. Ripple uses XRP broadly as part of its cross-border payments infrastructure targeting financial institutions.
When asked point blank whether there could be an XRP exchange-traded fund in the wake of the SEC approving several spot bitcoin ETFs last week, Garlinghouse danced around the question. “There will be other ETFs, for sure,” he stated vaguely, not directly addressing if or when we might see an SEC-approved fund tracking XRP’s price.
“I think it’s a certainty,” he said, speaking about more potential crypto ETFs. “I am not going to put a horizon on the time but I think there will be other ETFs for sure.”
XRP exists independently as the native coin powering the XRP Ledger, initially created in 2012 by some of Ripple’s eventual co-founders before the company had even been established. The open source blockchain facilitates high-speed transactions with minimal fees, making XRP useful for moving money across borders.
The Ripple CEO is also set to headline a Davos panel discussion titled “Clear-Eyed about Crypto.” The discussion will focus on the topic of what sensible regulation looks like.
Beyond his combative words for Gensler, Garlinghouse covered several other topics during the CNBC segment, including Ripple’s plans to continue expanding globally and entering new verticals outside payments through acquisitions. He cited increased hiring in non-US locations and the desire to avoid dealing further with what he perceives as overly hostile regulation within the United States.
Garlinghouse also touched on the timeline for resolving Ripple’s outstanding lawsuit against the SEC, noting optimistically that “I feel very good about where we are” after a judge ruled XRP itself is not a security. An appeal by the SEC to overturn some of those initial judgments has already been denied .
While an IPO for Ripple appears to be on the back burner for now, Garlinghouse said the company has looked at overseas listing options with regulatory regimes perceived as clearer and more crypto-friendly.
On the ETF front, excitement has shifted from spot Bitcoin ETFs to a potential Ether ETF. Following the approval of 11 exchange-traded funds, Ethereum rose to its highest level since May 2022. BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has already indicated interest in launching its own.