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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFTC Commissioner Romero discusses crypto regulation

Fintech Federal Issues Digital Assets CFTC Cryptocurrency


On June 14, CFTC Commissioner Christy Goldsmith Romero discussed cryptocurrency regulation in an interview. According to sources, Romero rejected suggestions that the agency would be laissez-faire on cryptocurrency regulation, saying that the CFTC is positioned to protect consumers if provided with more authority. Throughout the interview, Romero noted some similarities between the present market and the 2008 market, stating that there is a “pretty sizeable market that’s largely unregulated.” Noting that a “regulatory gap” exists because the CFTC does not have any regulatory authority over the cash spot market, Romero said that Congress should close that gap. She mentioned her support for a bill similar to the Responsible Financial Innovation Act that she expects will give the CFTC more authority and will be introduced by Senators Stabenow and Bozeman. When asked about the possibility of regulation slowing the crypto market, Romero responded that “companies can’t scale up the way they need to without a lot of the financial institutions investments,” and that “regulation is needed.” She further noted that “bringing credibility [and] bring[ing] customer protections [] are going to be really important for scaling up.” She also referred to the case-by-case philosophy of CFTC enforcement actions, explaining that the agency looks at “where the evidence lies" and that part of this approach is "send[ing] a message to deter future violations of the law.” She further expanded on that point by saying that “since the CFTC doesn’t have regulatory authority, it has to rely on victims and whistleblowers," among other things.

Romero also mentioned that a difference between now and 2008 is that there are not a lot of financial institutions invested in cryptocurrency, as many are “waiting for a regulatory framework" and more regulation. As more financial institutions become invested in cryptocurrency, she said that she expects there to be “more interconnections” and more customer protections. She also noted that her biggest concern is that “if regulation fails to keep pace with technology, the most vulnerable people are going to be hurt.” In terms of areas needing more customer protections, Romero identified the need for segregation of accounts, settlement, custody, and reducing cybersecurity risk. She also expressed her support for customer education, calling it “very important.”