Clayton, speaking on CNBC, said bitcoin’s popularity came from that disappointment in mainstream payments.
“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,” he said, according to the report.
He rebuked a suggestion from CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that bitcoin would be able to be regulated as a security, instead saying that the coin “was much more a payment mechanism” as opposed to a security, Coindesk reports.
Clayton, who is set to step down from his position at the end of the year, did say he thought bitcoin would prove to be an emerging force in the payments world.
“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.
That’s in spite of many of the SEC’s past attitudes toward crypto — in Clayton’s time, several different proposed bitcoin exchange-traded funds were blocked from launching.
Bitcoin has been trending upward in recent months, with more mainstream accolades and many worldwide governments looking at starting digital currency programs. That has been expedited by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused people to shift more towards cashless, non-physical forms of payment.
The shift has been noticed by big-name companies, including PayPal, which recently rolled out a method for letting customers buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies directly. In late October, the payments giant was also reportedly considering buying some cryptocurrency companies.
In another example, the Fed is working with MIT to look into ways to implement digital coins into the infrastructure. And recently, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said national banks and federal savings associations could hold reserves for customers who issue stablecoins.