CFTC Commissioner: Crypto Market Needs Clear Guidelines on Its Regulator

Two bills in the U.S. Congress could set the direction for regulating the crypto industry in the coming months, said Kristin N. Johnson, a commissioner at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Johnson, who was sworn in earlier this year, told CoinDesk TV on Wednesday the agency wants to give the crypto market clear guidance on which agency regulates it, and CFTC's regulatory role.

“It’s a question about oversight of the spot market,” Johnson said on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover.” CFTC wants the authority to "ensure market participants register and come into our ecosystem … and obtain for the customers they serve the protections that being part of the regulatory ecosystem means."

Two bills in Congress would give CFTC that mandate. One is a bipartisan bill introduced by members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the CFTC. It would give the agency “exclusive jurisdiction” to regulate cryptocurrency trades as defined by commodities laws.

The bill creates a definition of "digital commodity" that would include cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) but not anything that may be considered a security. Thus, the CFTC would have the ability to oversee both digital commodity transactions and force registration of digital commodity platforms.

The mandate under that bill gives the CFTC the green light to “actively and vigilantly” police the crypto markets, Johnson stated.

A separate and more wide-reaching bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) also makes the CFTC the primary regulator for crypto spot markets and futures.

The bottom line, according to Commissioner Johnson, “is to get clarity around regulatory oversight.”

“It benefits market participants to know who their regulator is,” she added.

Johnson did not say whether the CFTC has the necessary resources to do that crypto industry regulation, but she did acknowledge any oversight will ultimately depend on “collaboration” with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Congress and state regulators.

Johnson added the U.S. is in a position to influence regulation on an international level. “The U.S. should be a leader in developing the regulatory policies that we will adopt [and] that would apply to markets globally,” she said.

Read more: US Regulators Consider Asking Large Hedge Funds to Disclose Crypto Exposure