US Congress Weighs Bill Spelling Out CFTC's Crypto Derivatives Oversight

If passed, the bill would be the first to place Congressionally-mandated, digital commodity-specific requirements on the CFTC.

AccessTimeIconNov 5, 2019 at 11:45 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 11:40 a.m. UTC
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The U.S. Congress will soon vote on a bill providing new information about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (CFTC) authority over the cryptocurrency derivatives markets.

A provision in the 2019 CFTC Reauthorization Act clarifies how the regulator would collect information on digital commodities contracts and commodity swaps. The bill is heading to the House of Representatives for a floor vote after being passed unanimously by the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees the CFTC.

If passed, the bill would be the first to place Congressionally-mandated, digital commodity-specific requirements on the CFTC. What’s more, according to the provision’s writer, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D.-NY), it has already become the first crypto derivatives legislation in history to make it past committee.

"It’s time for Congress to get smart about crypto and create an integrated approach to regulating digital currencies," Maloney said in a statement. "This provision is an essential first step in our efforts to close the gap in regulation of crypto-assets in the derivatives market, fight manipulation and detect fraud."

The provision itself is short, saying the CFTC will “adopt rules detailing the content and availability of trade and trader data and other information the board of trade must be able to access” from contract markets underpinned by digital commodities.

A nearly-identical subsequent paragraph places the same requirements on swap execution facilities.

In response to a request for comment, a CFTC spokesperson sent CoinDesk a statement by Chairman Heath Tarbert, who said he commended the Agriculture Committee on passing bipartisan legislation.

"The sound regulation of our derivatives markets, which see more than $4 trillion in notional activity each day, is critical to the health of the U.S. economy and the pocketbook of every American," he said, adding:

"I look forward to working with members of both parties in both chambers to see a bill through to completion."

CFTF Chair Heath Tarbert image via CoinDesk archives

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