US CFTC Chair Says Agency Has Resisted Calls to Suppress Development of Crypto Sector

United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo has emphasized the agency’s commitment is to monitor, but not impede, the development of the crypto asset sector.

Giancarlo made his remarks during a speech devoted to EU-U.S. regulatory cooperation for derivatives markets, delivered at the Eurofi Financial Forum in Bucharest, Romania on April 4.

The chairman expressed his agency’s support of international efforts to review the effectiveness of the G20's derivatives reform agenda and to ensure they enhance, rather than stifle, derivatives markets. He noted that the CFTC is itself committed to making its own rules and regulations simpler, less cumbersome and less costly for market participants.

In this context, he isolated the CFTC’s positive approach to new derivatives products for crypto assets and other emerging technologies, proposing that:

“We have resisted calls to use our legal powers to suppress the development of crypto-assets. [...] Instead, we have favored close monitoring of market developments while not hindering the introduction of new products like bitcoin futures, which have proven invaluable in letting market forces determine the appropriate value of the bitcoin.”

In regard to his last claim, Giancarlo referenced a May 2018 research paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. The paper had argued that the launch of Bitcoin (BTC) futures trading on two major exchanges, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, had sufficiently deepened the crypto derivatives market to offset one-sided speculative demand and allow for a more balanced correction to inflated valuations.

As Cointelegraph has reported, Giancarlo has previously suggested that the CFTC’s authorization of Bitcoin futures was consistent with the agency’s agenda to embrace market-based solutions for innovation.

He also proposed that the agency’s creation of its own fintech innovation hub, LabCFTC, was fundamental for keeping pace with the transformative technological change and market evolution heralded by blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

Two of LabCFTC’s fintech educational primers to date have been devoted to crypto and blockchain: on virtual currencies in October 2017 and smart contracts in November 2018.

In December 2018, the lab solicited public and industry comments on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain as part of its evaluation of prospectively authorizing Ethereum futures contracts.