CFTC 2.0: US Regulator Unveils Plan to Step Up Blockchain R&D

The US Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) revealed a new fintech initiative today that will find the regulator seeking to increase its participation in the ongoing global R&D effort related to blockchain and distributed ledger tech.

As part of a sweeping CFTC 2.0 proposal, the US options and futures regulator is launching LabCFTC, a fintech initiative that will seek to bolster the pace at which the regulator assesses new technologies. The aim, according to the CFTC, is to become “more accessible” to innovators working on new financial technologies through the program.

The CFTC also made public a LabCFTC component called GuidePoint, both an online tool that will provide a point of contact for entrepreneurs, and a physical location in New York where they can find an open door for such guidance, and “CFTC 2.0”, described as an initiative to foster and help initiate the adoption of new technology within the agency.

In statements today at the New York FinTech Innovation Lab, Chairman Christopher Giancarlo characterized the mission as one that would seek to explore new technologies including AI, machine learning and DLT.

In particular, he cited advances such as “smart contracts that value themselves and calculate payments in real-time” and “distributed ledger technology, more commonly known as blockchain” as innovations that will challenge the financial infrastructure today.

Giancarlo said of the program:

“We will look to explore ways to use fintech to enhance CFTC functions and duties. For example, we might collaborate with other authorities on leading development of best practices to support the development of ‘regulator nodes’ on distributed ledgers, or experiment with collecting or distributing existing CFTC reports through blockchain technology.”

As evidence of the need for action, Giancarlo cited the speed at which other enabling technologies – including automated trading – have reshaped modern financial markets and put new stress on regulators.

“The world is changing. Our parents’ financial markets are gone. The 21st century digital transformation is well underway,” he remarked.

Such a move finds the CFTC emerging as one of the more active global regulators when it comes to conceiving how it will respond to the advent of distributed ledger solutions.

Among the more active jurisdictions globally include Japan, where the legislature has passed national regulations aimed at cryptocurrencies, and Mauritius and Malta, which have recently announced initiatives aimed at providing clarity to regional innovators.

Washington, DC image via Shutterstock

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