CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam Urges Congress for Regulatory Action on Digital Commodity Markets
Rostin Behnam, the Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), recently urged the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture to take legislative action to regulate the digital commodity market. Testifying at the Committee's "Future of Digital Assets" hearing, he expressed the need to protect customers and ensure market resilience and stability in the face of growing volatility.
This call follows the Financial Stability Oversight Council's landmark report last year, which highlighted financial stability risks associated with the digital asset market. The council recommended Congressional action to fill the regulatory gap, particularly over the spot market for digital assets that are not securities.
Behnam highlighted the pressing nature of these recommendations in the wake of events such as the bankruptcy of multiple digital asset platforms and alleged manipulative trading practices that undermined market confidence. He also drew attention to recurrent cybersecurity vulnerabilities that led to billions in lost funds.
Referencing the 2008 financial crisis, Behnam proposed that similar principles of market regulation – transparency, reporting, and registration – be applied to the digital commodity market. He stressed the need for rules focused on customer asset protection, trading activity surveillance, and the enforcement of stringent cybersecurity standards.
The chairman listed several key regulatory provisions, including robust customer protections, market integrity assurance, and adequate funding for regulation enforcement. He also highlighted the unique role of the CFTC in this process, emphasizing that it should be fully empowered to require necessary risk and operational disclosures from registered entities.
Behnam underscored that the new legislation must not undermine existing laws, particularly where securities laws apply. He further stressed that the CFTC's authority in the spot market for digital commodities is presently limited to acting only after fraud has occurred, suggesting that it should be empowered to proactively establish rules to prevent fraud.
Finally, Behnam noted the CFTC's unique funding structure, being the only financial market regulator that relies on Congress for funding. He urged Congress to provide the necessary resources for any new authority, as managing the digital commodity market within the current regulatory framework and resources would be challenging.
Behnam concluded his testimony by expressing optimism in the Committee's efforts to address gaps in digital asset regulation and committed to working alongside the Committee and Congress members on the legislative proposal.