The head of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Oct. 11 renewed his call for Congress to grant the agency broader authority to regulate the digital commodities market.
"Now with technology changing, now with the growing capacity for retail investors and actually investors across the board to have access to markets, we have to change, we have to evolve, and we have to think about new asset classes that have emerged," CFTC Chair Rostin Behnam said at the Security Traders Association's annual conference in Washington.
Several bills have been floated in recent years to grant the CFTC additional authority to regulate the trading of digital assets that act as commodities, such as cryptocurrencies bitcoin and ether. There is still a debate as to how regulators — the Securities and Exchange Commission is the other regulator on the front lines of the U.S. crypto market — should classify smaller cryptocurrencies.
One bill to give the CFTC added power in the crypto space is the bipartisan Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act, which was introduced last year by leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee.
But talks over such legislation have cooled since the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX in November.
Nevertheless, Behnam said Congress passing a comprehensive crypto regulation bill is "inevitable," though the timing remains unclear.
Behnam said the CFTC has brought more than 120 enforcement actions in the crypto space since 2014 but noted that it's just the "tip of the iceberg."
He added, "It's regulation without registration, it's regulation without surveillance, it's regulation without being able to engage with registrants and market participants. It really is relying on nothing more than tips, complaints and whistleblowers bringing information to us after the fact. After the fraud's occurred, after manipulation's occurred and most importantly, after the money's lost. So that's not an efficient system."