US Risk Watchdog Poised to Ask Congress to Name Crypto Spot Market Regulator

The top U.S. financial regulators are warning of dangerous holes in the oversight of crypto and are asking Congress for more powers, including settling which agency will oversee the bulk of trading in bitcoins and other non-security tokens, officials said during a meeting of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) on Monday.

The council is preparing to issue a report on Monday that flags several of the unregulated hazards in the digital assets industry, including the spot market for bitcoin, according to Treasury officials speaking at the meeting. These latest recommendations from the group, which is led by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, would effectively bolster the two leading efforts in crypto legislation: a bill that would put the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in charge of overseeing that spot market, and another that would establish rules for stablecoin issuers.

“Innovation without adequate regulation could result in significant disruptions,” Yellen said during the council’s Monday meeting. She said the report "identifies a number of current gaps in regulation" and finds that crypto assets "could pose a risk to financial stability."

Read more: Biden’s Executive Order Produces Few Answers in Crypto Reports From US Treasury

The FSOC document concluded that potential fraud and manipulation in crypto trading begs for a spot market watchdog, according to a staff presentation at the meeting. Legislation in both the Senate and House would place the CFTC in that role, though the bills leave the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with authority over deciding which tokens are securities that it will have jurisdiction over.

The FSOC – whose members include the heads of financial agencies, including the Federal Reserve and both the SEC and CFTC – is also preparing to recommend that U.S. regulators need to be able to reach into all corners of digital businesses. They not only need to be able to supervise a crypto firm, but also all of its affiliates and key service providers – like the Fed can do when it oversees Wall Street banks, the report will argue, asking Congress to grant that power.

This is the latest document – and one of the most anticipated – set to emerge from President Joe Biden’s executive order calling on federal regulators to come up with plans for wrangling crypto. While the FSOC will once again note that U.S. financial regulators do have powers that reach into much of the industry, the report’s recommendations rely heavily on Congress to step in and solve many of the government’s shortcomings. However, the current congressional session is nearing its end as lawmakers direct their attention to the midterm elections next month that will remake Congress, so any reliance on the legislative branch could represent a long-term project.