CFTC Chair: Crypto Needs ‘Do No Harm’ Approach That Regulators Gave the Early Internet

U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo has said that crypto needs a “do no harm” approach from regulators to flourish, in an interview at the annual Singapore Summit today, Friday 14.

Chairman Giancarlo said he took the precedent from the early days of the Internet, which he argued was able to develop and mature because of the government’s minimal interventions:

“I’m advocating the same approach to cryptocurrencies and all things having to do with this new digital revolution of markets, and of currencies, and of asset classes.”

Nonetheless, he distinguished between the CFTC’s short-term approach to tackling illicit activity on the crypto markets, and the agency’s longer-term – and potentially critically impactful – decisions on policy making for the nascent industry:

“When it comes to fraud and manipulation, we need to be strong. When it comes to policy making, I think we need to be slow and deliberate and well informed.”

The Chairman also rebutted accusations that the U.S. regulatory context for crypto has been slow to take clear shape, noting that the CFTC had presided over the “very first” regulated offerings of Bitcoin (BTC) futures, which launched on December 2017 on the stalwart American CME and CBOE exchanges.

The question of how cryptocurrencies should be defined and which agencies are responsible for their regulation have long been debated by U.S. regulators. A U.S. House hearing earlier this summer encapsulated the unique challenge posed by crypto, with speakers emphasizing that digital assets complicate the hard and fast distinctions of existing regulatory frameworks.

This year two federal judges have ruled on major cases that confirmed the applicability of federal commodity regulations to Bitcoin under the CFTC’s oversight, as well as – just this week – the applicability of U.S. securities laws for prosecuting crypto fraud allegations.

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