CFTC Is Waiting on SEC to Allow Futures Trading of More Digital Assets, Says CFTC Chairman
Chairman Tarbert of the CFTC wants to see more clarity on which tokens are securities within the U.S. as well as broader international cooperation on regulation.
In a July 7 interview with predecessor Jim Newsome, current Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Heath Tarbert ran down a list of pending concerns standing between cryptocurrencies and the long-awaited promised land of regulatory clarity.
Securities regulation and the CFTCâ€™s purview
Tarbert was careful to outline the distinction between the work of the CFTC and its elder brother regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC.Â
The determination of whether a digital asset is a security is â€œthe sole province of the SEC,â€� Tarbert explained. â€œIf their determination is that itâ€™s not a security then we can start taking it under our own purview.â€�Â
â€œOnce you start seeing more clarity on whether something is or is not a security, you will start seeing more futures listed on digital assets.â€�Â
Currently, Bitcoin and Ether are both classified as commodities in the United States, which is why futures contracts for both are legally available in the country â€” in the case of Ether, only since May. Tarbert expressed interest in expanding this roster both today and in the past, but that remains an open question.Â
The position of the United States in global crypto regulation
While Tarbert noted that â€œitâ€™s critically important that the United States lead in technology and especially blockchain technology,â€� he was not satisfied with the countryâ€™s current frameworks. In response to a question from Newsome as to whether the U.S. was leading the world in regulation, Tarbert said:Â
â€œI donâ€™t think I can say that weâ€™re a leader from the regulatory standpoint. I do think weâ€™re a leader from the technological standpoint.â€�Â
Tarbert did, however, emphasize that digital assets are an especially tricky area to write laws for because they cross borders so readily: â€œRegulators and governors care about borders but technology doesnâ€™t. So really for this field to reach its full potential we need international cooperation.â€�
Speaking today, Tarbert reemphasized an earlier point about the CFTC being focused on principles rather than prescriptive rules.
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