Five weeks ago, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced three exchanges had self-certified Bitcoin derivatives products. Following the subsequent backlash from the Futures Industry Association (FIA), the CFTC has announced two public committee meetings to review the self-certification process, procedures and operational controls for listing and trading digital currency futures. The news comes on the heels of SEC and NASAA independent statements which discussed the concerns both regulators share on cryptocurrencies, ICOs and other, “Cryptocurrency-related Investment Products.”
The first meeting, slated for January 23, 2018, is the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) meeting. The topics outlined for discussion include “explor[ing] timely topics and issues involving financial technology in CFTC regulated markets, potentially including blockchain/DLT, data standardization and analytics, algorithmic trading, virtual currencies, cybersecurity, and RegTech.” While the committee meeting will be open to the public and held at the CFTC headquarters in Washington, D.C., a webcast of the meeting will also be available.
The second meeting, slated for January 31, 2018, is with the Market Risk Advisory Committee (MRAC). It, too, is open to the public and will have a webcast for remote viewing. The purpose of this Committee Meeting is to discuss “the statutory and regulatory process for the listing of new and novel products on CFTC-regulated designated contract markets (DCMs) and swap execution facilities (SEFs) through self-certification.”
CFTC Commissioner Rostin Behnam stated:
Behnam added, “I believe this is a perfect time for the MRAC to discuss the application of the CFTC's self-certification process in today's quickly evolving, technology driven marketplace.”
It remains to be seen if other regulators view these meetings as an attempt by the CFTC to expand its own authority through amending the self-certification process or if they are happy to follow for the lead role the CFTC is attempting to take in guiding cryptocurrencies toward increased oversight. Regardless, it seems that the CFTC has heard the concerns raised from the FIA, the SEC and NASAA and is planning to act swiftly on them.
With the rapid development of financial technology products – including cryptocurrencies – and the corresponding demand for new and novel price discovery and risk management tools, the CFTC is poised to utilize its authority and expertise to ensure that the markets we oversee innovate responsibly within an appropriate oversight framework.
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