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In a press release dated December 11, the regulator stated that it is seeking the feedback to inform its grasp of the mechanics, technology and markets for cryptocurrencies outside of bitcoin which has historically dominated the conversation.
The RFI will accept responses for 60 days after being published in the Federal Register. Clarifying what the information request seeks to achieve, an excerpt from the announcement reads:
“In a Request for Information (RFI) that will be published in the Federal Register, the CFTC is asking for public feedback on a range of questions related to the underlying technology, opportunities, risks, mechanics, use cases, and markets, related to Ether and the Ethereum Network. […] The RFI also seeks to understand similarities and distinctions between Ether and Bitcoin, as well as Ether-specific opportunities, challenges, and risks.”
According to the statement, the information gathered in the course of the exercise will be used to improve the CFTC’s knowledge bank on the subject of cryptocurrencies, which will position it for effective regulation as the space continues to grow. The data and responses gathered will also be used to inform the activities LabCFTC, the body’s Fintech initiative that aims to bridge the gap between the regulator and financial innovators.
ETH Futures Speculation
The announcement could be a hint at the preliminary workings of an Ether futures trading framework. Up to this point, the only cryptocurrency with regulated futures trading is bitcoin – a state of affairs that has historically fueled its outsized crypto market dominance. In November, CCN reported that Nasdaq is planning to introduce a dedicated bitcoin futures market before the end of Q1 2019 after working through an approval process with the CFTC.
If it does turn out that the CFTC is in the early stages of exploring approval for Ether futures, this could have a significant positive impact on Ethereum following its recent dethronement by XRP to become only the third most capitalised cryptocurrency.
In line with the CFTC’s pro-innovation stance, the RFI is one of a number of methods that it deploys to ensure that its regulatory system does not result in overreach which stifles innovation according to University of Arkansas law lecturer Carol Goforth. CFTC chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo is himself notably pro-crypto, declaring recently that crypto is “here to stay“, whether or not it upstages the US Dollar as the de-facto world reserve currency.
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