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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

Speaking on Thursday at Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit in San Francisco, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission director of Corporate Finance William Hinman said that digital token ether is not a security.

Why it matters: The digital currency industry has been awaiting for more regulatory clarity for some time, particularly around widely popular cryptocurrencies like ether and bitcoin. SEC chairman Jay Clayton recently said that the latter is akin to a currency, much to the relief of the industry.

Note: While Hinman declared ether not a security, he was careful to specify that he's referring to the token today.

  • "Putting aside the fundraising that accompanied the creation of Ether... current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions, " he said. "Over time, there may be other sufficiently decentralized networks and systems where regulating the tokens or coins that function on them as securities may not be required," he added, echoing recent comments by SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce who also posited that some digital tokens may seem like securities when first issued, but could change in status over time.
  • This is important as it signals that it's not a blanket pass for all tokens, and that the commission will be focused on issuance of tokens and how they fit in with securities laws.

Still in question: Whether Ripple's XRP token is considered a security or not.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).