CFTC Chair: Don't expect crypto tech to be a 'free pass' from regulation

Quick Take

  • The head of the CFTC explained his thinking behind a push for more regulatory authority in crypto, as well as the significance of a recent pursuit of a DAO. 

“We’re gonna have to adapt, there’s no doubt about it. This is not a very in-the-box moment,” says Rostin Behnam, who chairs the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Behnam was speaking at DC Fintech Week, during which he addressed the CFTC's recent blitz to get more regulatory authority in crypto.

Of this push, Behnam explained: "What I’ve advocated for and what I’ve asked Congress for is very clearly spot authority over commodity tokens.”

He further reiterated his belief that ether as well as bitcoin are commodities. In a recent report the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a supercommittee of U.S. financial regulators, recommended Congress pass legislation to allow more direct regulation of cryptocurrencies defined as commodities.

The CFTC currently only has jurisdiction over derivatives and futures markets, rather than power over the immediate spot markets that contain a majority of the investment into bitcoin and ether. 


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Alongside this push, the CFTC has been touting its enforcement activity in crypto. One particularly visible recent example was the CFTC's case against Ooki DAO, which many in the crypto industry took as an attack on the idea of decentralization. 

Behnam disagreed, describing Ooki DAO as “an extreme, where it’s so egregious and so obvious, that we would be essentially, objectively, failing to do our jobs if we did not bring this case.” 

He continued to caution the crypto industry: "I would say to anyone out there who is participating or creating or innovating, don’t expect this to be a free pass.” 

© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

About Author

Kollen Post is a senior reporter at The Block, covering all things policy and geopolitics from Washington, DC. That includes legislation and regulation, securities law and money laundering, cyber warfare, corruption, CBDCs, and blockchain’s role in the developing world. He speaks Russian and Arabic. You can send him leads at [email protected].