While most federal regulators in the US have taken a sluggish approach to cryptocurrencies, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has been an exception. In September 2015, the body designated cryptocurrencies as commodities, rather than currencies.
Then, in May 2016, it gave TeraExchange, a cryptocurrency clearing platform, full authorization to trade digital currency derivatives, making it the first company in the US to receive such permission. Now, the CFTC has granted the same permission to another player, LedgerX, a cryptocurrency trading and clearing platform for institutional investors. The CFTC’s decision to approve a second such company suggests it may license more players going forward.
It’s worth noting the CFTC may find it easier than other federal agencies to deal with cryptocurrencies. The CFTC’s mandate covers all forms of trades and bets made on the future performance of a commodity, regardless of what it may be, so by classifying cryptocurrencies under this umbrella term, it can apply its existing regulatory framework to the asset class. The CFTC is therefore in a position to license firms like LedgerX because they handle only trades, swaps, and derivatives based on cryptocurrency movements, rather than the assets directly. In contrast, regulators that actually handle the purchase and sale of assets, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), may find it harder to fit cryptocurrencies into their current taxonomy.
Despite the CFTC’s proactive approach, cryptocurrencies are still mired in regulatory uncertainty in the US. Although federal regulators have delayed introducing cryptocurrency rules, state regulators have been quicker off the mark, with New York taking the lead. And each of these bodies is pursuing a unique agenda, thereby classifying cryptocurrencies differently. If state regulators don’t coordinate between themselves, as well as with federal bodies, the end result will be an even more convoluted regulatory environment for players like LedgerX. These players will be left with no clarity on their legal status if the bodies responsible for legislation cannot reach consensus.
Despite having one of the largest fintech industries in the world, the U.S. is noticeably behind other regions when it comes to one factor crucial to the future growth of this burgeoning sector — regulation.
The U.S. regulatory environment is holding back fintechs and hindering their chances of success.
- Examines the current regulatory landscape in the U.S.
- Explains how it is negatively affecting the fintech industry.
- Outlines the initiatives currently in play from major regulatory agencies.
- Considers the future of U.S. fintech regulation and its potential impact on the fintech sector.
You can also purchase and download the full report from our research store.