CFTC's Latest Crypto Primer Highlights DeFi, Governance

Decentralized finance and crypto governance are among a growing list of topics the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is watching in the digital asset space, it said in a new primer.

AccessTimeIconDec 17, 2020 at 4:25 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:44 a.m. UTC

Decentralized finance (DeFi) and crypto governance are among a growing list of topics the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is watching in the digital asset space, the CFTC said in a new primer. 

The regulatory agency published the primer Thursday as part of an ongoing effort to understand and explain the crypto industry. The primer isn’t intended to create policy, but to inform or educate interested parties on digital asset derivatives and other financial technologies. 

Melissa Netram, director of LabCFTC and the Commission’s Chief Innovation Officer, told CoinDesk: “Digital assets are still very complex and one of the key points to mention is that there are so many regulators here in the U.S. that [oversee] digital assets,” she said. “It’s important for regulatory coordination.”

The space is still evolving rapidly, said Brian Trackman, senior counsel at LabCFTC. The division’s task is to track that evolution and ensure other groups within the CFTC are up to speed.

The 36-page document mentions decentralized finance, governance and markets as issues that warrant further study.

“It’s not meant to be an exclusive list, [but] some of the topics we hope there will be further conversation about,” said Trackman, the primer’s chief author. “Decentralized finance applications seem to multiply exponentially, [and] there’s the issue of governance whether in terms of DeFi or just bitcoin and ether and how they’ll evolve.”

The agency’s last primer was published two years ago, and noted that smart contracts would be subject to financial laws within the U.S. The newest one is fairly broad, detailing derivatives products that fall within the agency’s purview and listing how the CFTC or other agencies can interact with the crypto industry.

LabCFTC met with industry participants ranging from “individuals with an idea to established large financial institutions” as it prepared the document, Trackman said. 

“In the scheme of things it’s small, comparatively,” Netram said of the CFTC’s studies of the digital asset space.“That being said, I think what our role is, is to continue to highlight the ever-growing and ever-changing market so that we’re ahead of the curve and we’re constantly addressing new technologies and new innovations,” Netram said.


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