Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo told CNBC today that U.S. regulators need to adopt a “do no harm” approach to cryptocurrencies, in much the same way that officials did during the early days of the internet revolution. He suggested that the government would need a balanced approach that guards against fraudulent and manipulative activities without stifling innovation or growth in the industry.
Giancarlo made the comments during the Singapore Summit on Friday. He pointed to the internet’s success as an example of how a light regulatory touch can help to foster the sort of environment emerging technologies need to grow and succeed:
"And I'm advocating the same approach to cryptocurrencies and all things having to do with this new digital revolution of markets, and of currencies, and of asset classes."
The CFTC Chairman did not shy away from the need for government regulators to play a role in the industry. He noted that even more regulated spaces like precious metals and foreign exchange markets continue to experience instances of fraud and manipulation. Giancarlo suggested that he’s seeing some of the same type of fraud and market manipulation creeping into the cryptocurrency markets as well.
According to Giancarlo, regulators need to be strong on enforcement of prohibitions on fraud and manipulation but approach policy-making in a slower and more deliberate manner. He also responded to critics who have complained about the speed at which U.S. regulators have responded to the cryptocurrency revolution by pointing to the country’s acceptance of Bitcoin futures offerings:
“Some would say we're too slow, others have said we've been too fast. So, we at the CFTC, saw the very first regulated offerings of bitcoins futures. No other regime in the world has allowed this to go forward."