CFTC Preparing to Oversee Crypto, Behnam Tells Senators


  • Two Senate committees heard from regulators, interested parties about cryptocurrency regulation Thursday
  • Gensler said that the “vast majority” of cryptocurrency tokens are securities

In the Senate’s latest overture to crafting cryptocurrencycurrency regulation, two committee meetings on Thursday demonstrated that jurisdictional industry guidelines are still very much still up in the air.

The Senate Agriculture Committee heard from Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chair Rostin Behnam and other cryptocurrencycurrency and banking industry professionals — while SEC Chair Gary Gensler appeared before the Senate Banking Committee. 

Behnam told senators the CFTC has already started preparing to become the cryptocurrency industry’s watchdog. 

“The volatility in the market, and its impact on retail customers — which may only worsen under current macroeconomic conditions – emphasizes the immediate need for regulatory clarity and market protections,” Behnam said in prepared remarks to the Agriculture Committee. 

Gensler, who appeared before the Banking Committee at the same time, doubled down on his view that most cryptocurrency tokens and companies will have to work with his agency in some capacity. 

“Of the nearly 10,000 tokens in the cryptocurrency market, I believe the vast majority are securities. Offers and sales of these thousands of cryptocurrency security tokens are covered by the securities laws, which require that these transactions be registered or made pursuant to an available exemption,” Gensler said in prepared remarks. “Thus, I’ve asked the SEC staff to work directly with entrepreneurs to get their tokens registered and regulated, where appropriate, as securities.” 

The message was in line with remarks Gensler made ahead of the hearing. The SEC head said earlier this month he would support the CFTC overseeing cryptocurrencys that can be classified as commodities, namely bitcrypto. 

Agriculture Committee Chair Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and committee member Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., presented legislation in August — the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act — that would place commodities under the CFTC’s jurisdiction. The bill only mentions bitcrypto and ether as commodities and does not elaborate on the classification process.

“We are at a crossroads when it comes to cryptocurrency,” Christine Parker, vice president and deputy general counsel for Coinbase, said during the second panel before the Agriculture Committee. 

Parker emphasized the need for clearer definitions and classifications, adding that digital asset commodities should be regulated by the CFTC and not through enforcement actions by the SEC. This appeared to be a nod toward Coinbase’s latest battle with the SEC over the classification of nine tokens as securities. 

Despite ongoing discussions around jurisdiction, the agencies maintain they are committed to working together and share the same goals. 

“The two agencies work very collaboratively,” ​​Valerie Szczepanik, director of the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub) office at the SEC, said during a panel discussion at the Digital Asset Summit in New York Tuesday. “From my perspective, the agencies really want to get it right. It’s all about investor protection and market integrity and our two agencies want to cover the landscape so those goals are achieved.”


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  • Casey Wagner

    Blockworks

    Senior Reporter

    Casey Wagner is a New York-based business journalist covering regulation, legislation, digital asset investment firms, market structure, central banks and governments, and CBDCs. Prior to joining Blockworks, she reported on markets at Bloomberg News. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in Media Studies.

    Contact Casey via email at [email protected]



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