By CCN: J. Christopher Giancarlo, Chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), is preparing to step aside after five years on the job. The regulator, lovingly nicknamed “Crypto Dad,” penned a heartfelt open letter to the blockchain world ahead of his exit from the agency.
The CFTC, which regulates commodities and futures, has adopted a more accommodative stance towards crypto than the more guarded SEC. Having approved the launch of bitcoin futures contracts at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the CME Group in December 2017, it opened the doors for institutional exposure to digital currencies.
Although the CBOE decided to cease listing bitcoin futures beyond currently open contracts that run through to June, some pundits have claimed the lack of futures interest signaled the end of the bear market.
The SEC has continually denied bitcoin ETF applications. Its signature stamp of disapproval came last July, when it ditched nine proposals in one fell swoop. Despite the dissenting voice of Crypto Mom, Hester M. Peirce, the Jay Clayton-led Securities and Exchange Commission has proven a bigger hurdle for crypto’s mainstreamification.
At the heart of the SEC’s concern is the size of the market (too small) and the level of manipulation (too much). Though many suggest ETFs are a matter of if, and not when, the SEC’s approach to the community has been anything but reassuring.
Christopher Giancarlo is affectionately known as Crypto Dad. In his farewell letter to the crypto community, he outlined some of his views about crypto and the role the CFTC should play in it. He argues that a regulator cannot be effective without keeping abreast of technological change:
“It has been a core belief during my tenure as Chairman that in order for the CFTC to remain an effective regulator, it must keep pace with these changes, or our regulations will become outdated and ineffective. I am pleased to say that over the last two years, the CFTC has been no bystander to the digitization of modern markets.”
That position is in stark contrast to the SEC’s application of the Howey Test – of 1946 – to ICO tokens. Giancarlo’s approach is no less considered. But his agency has been incredibly accommodative of new technologies, because, in his words:
“Just as our lives are being transformed, so the world’s trading markets are going through the same digital revolution from analog to digital, from human to algorithmic trading and from stand-alone centers to interconnected trading webs. Emerging digital technologies are impacting trading markets and the entire financial landscape with far-ranging implications for capital formation and risk transfer.”
Giancarlo will be fondly remembered by the community that endowed him the nickname Crypto Dad. If his parting words are anything to go by, crypto has a bright future ahead of it, and authorities less to fear from it than they may think:
“I feel fortunate to have been at the helm during this time to be a voice in government to quiet some of the fears and calls to dismiss or squash this new technology.”
Giancarlo sees similarities between the disruption cryptocurrency and DLT are bringing to finance and markets today and that which the Renaissance period brought to European culture, arts, and life.
Let’s hope that sentiment echoes through the corridors of power.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.