Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum seem to have regained their mojo. Despite a beatdown in early February, the crypto space has been raging higher. In fact, bitcoin prices are up more than 50% from its low just a few weeks ago.
Interestingly, the cryptocurrency was up about 7.1% to $11,052 near 4pm ET Thursday. That's despite the Securities & Exchange Commission launching "dozens of subpoenas and information requests," according to the Wall Street Journal.
Perhaps bitcoin's gain is on the belief that the SEC is starting to take more notice of the cryptocurrency space and that some regulatory framework around the industry will add more legitimacy to it.
At least, that's one train of thought. While bitcoin prices are reacting favorably, other securities are not. Specifically, those on the receiving of the SEC's inquiries and subpoenas. Currently, the SEC is mainly focusing on initial coin offerings -- or ICOs -- a processed used to raise funds through the sale of new digital coins.
The ICO market and cryptocurrencies in general have led to a Wild West-like environment. In fact, that's exactly what former SEC commissioner Dan Gallagher called it in his WSJ interview. "It is 'Wolf of Wall Street' on steroids," he said.
Ironically, TheStreet caught up to the real Wolf of Wall Street to get his take on bitcoin not too long ago.
So it's not as if the SEC is hitting up cryptocurrency exchanges and putting a halt on trading until it has some answers. It is probing some of the companies that utilize it, and specifically those who have participated in an ICO.
Overstock.com Inc. (OSTK) is being probed by the SEC over its Zero token offering. Shares fell 4.39% to $57.75 but rebounded hard off its lows as investors shake off the notion that perhaps this is only an information query and that Overstock hasn't done much wrong.
Some people are still convinced that bitcoin is worthless. Many will agree that the technology it's built on -- blockchain -- is a novel advancement, though.
Blockchain's functions have a lot of use, ranging from banking to logistics. For that reason, it's likely here to stay. Bitcoin still has to prove itself with investors, although more are starting to recognize it as a legitimate asset. For that trend to continue, there needs to be more safety in the crypto space, which is where the SEC can come into play.
By making it a safer area of investment, the asset will gain a better reputation. Phony ICOs and shady digital currencies that can't hold water don't have a place in the market. It undermines confidence and trust in legitimate currencies. In this sense, the SEC can be a big help. In fact, it could help bitcoin flourish.
What it means for the companies above is yet to be determined, though.