CFTC’s Quintenz: ‘Bitcoin and Blockchain Are Transformative’

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The CFTC doesn’t want to interfere with bitcoin or the blockchain. In fact, Brian Quintenz, Commissioner of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), envisions a future not only with bitcoin and blockchain in it but also with them having a transformative effect, saying the regulator has no intentions of standing in the way of innovation.

Piggybacking on the sentiment of CFTC chairman Christopher Giancarlo, Quintenz at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit for Crypto in New York on Feb. 7 said that while lawmakers decide how to tread exchanges and the spot market, the CFTC, in the meantime, won’t say not to innovators or to technology, pointing to the “really exciting space” that he’s glad the CFTC has the opportunity to be part of.

“I think bitcoin and blockchain are transformative. We’ll remember when this happened and in all of the follow-on results that this concept will create down the road,” Quintenz said, adding: “It’s going to affect everything we have.”

Bitcoin and blockchain, he suggests, will have far-reaching implications for the financial markets, as they pertain to activities such as settlement, trading, allocation, etc. Quintenz applauded Chairman Giancarlo for taking Tuesday’s Congressional panel platform to speak his vision.

“He took the first opportunity he had as chairman of the agency to … bring fintech expertise in-house so we have a method of communicating with the fintech community and innovators. Our approach around this topic is … we want to be forward thinking and we want to be open to new ideas.”

The discussion spilled over into the delivery of bitcoin futures contracts, margins, volatility and the regulatory response to any unusual aberrations on margin —  all evidence that the CFTC is engaged with the cryptocurrency market and the market forces surrounding it.


But in order for bitcoin and the blockchain to mature, especially in light of the limited resources and mixed feelings about it in Congress, some form of self regulation is needed. It’s a course that was similarly taken in the traditional markets with groups like FINRA. Such groups can help bring lawmakers up to speed and can also lobby on behalf of the budding cryptocurrency industry on Capitol Hill.

“Between now and when Congress chooses how to act … between exchanges and spot market regulation, I’d like to use this opportunity to call on the investment community and advocacy community around digital currencies to create some type of self-regulatory [organization], to develop standards around cyber policy, insider trading, ethics, codes of conduct,” he said, adding that self regulation has a strong history in our markets.

The Future

Quintenz sponsors a CFTC tech committee, which meets for the first time next week. The topics include distributed ledger technology and bitcoin, digital currency, and more. These are issues the agency is interested in receiving feedback on.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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