CFTC Chair Calls Bitcoin and Ethereum ‘Digital Commodity Tokens’, Says Regulator Seeking More Power From Congress

Rostin Behnam, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), says he is seeking authority from US Congress to regulate Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and other digital tokens as commodities.

In a new CNBC interview, Behnam reiterates a position held by other US regulatory agencies that Bitcoin is a commodity, but he takes a contested position that Ethereum is also a commodity that falls under CFTC jurisdiction.

“We’re a derivatives regulator. We don’t oversee cash markets. So the authority that I’ve been asking Congress for is cash authority so that we can go into the Bitcoin cash market, the Ether cash market and the other digital commodity tokens.”

In a previous interview, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler suggested the top altcoin Ethereum should come under SEC regulations as a security.

Behnam acknowledges the difference in opinions.

“We’re gonna have to figure that out I think legislatively, because this is a new asset class and there are different components and characteristics of this asset class as opposed to traditional asset classes. We have to rely on 70-year-old case law to determine what’s a security what’s a commodity. We have at least one court case in the Eastern District of New York that says Bitcoin is a commodity. There are other cases out there and we’re just trying to figure this out.”

Asked if there was a “turf war” between the two agencies, Behnam says they are working collaboratively to land upon the best regulations.

“Well, it’s not a turf war. It’s two regulators who work together in the swap space, who work together in the future space, and we’re trying to find a reasonable outcome that will create certainty for the market, but also customer protections for retail investors.”

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