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CFTC Opens ‘LabCFTC’ For Crypto and FinTech

In an announcement first made at the annual, Commodities and Futures Trade Commission (CFTC)-hosted ‘Fintech Forward conference’: the CFTC announced the full establishment of a new office, as an evolution of its pre-existing division called ‘LabCFTC’.

LabCFTC was established in 2017 within the Office of General Counsel, and is focused primarily towards pioneering legislation concerning emerging technologies and companies within the FinTech sector. This includes cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, as it pertains to financial organisations.

“LabCFTC has done fantastic work since its inception to examine emerging fintech issues and bring together innovators and regulators…

The Chairman’s elevation of LabCFTC reflects its growth and importance as well as his pro-innovation mindset for the agency.”

Dan Davis (LabCFTC, General Counsel)

LabCFTC seeks to make the understanding of regulations and overall image of the CFTC with innovators within FinTech and cryptocurrency, achieved through its ‘Guidepoint’ division, which provides support on the definition and developments of CFTC regulatory frameworks.

CFTC 2.0 is another core initiative and was created to help increase the adoption of “new technology within the CFTC’s own mission activities through collaboration with FinTech industry and CFTC market participants”.

Officially, the objectives of the LabCFTC are twofold. Firstly, it wants to help “promote responsible FinTech Innovation to improve the quality, resiliency, and competitiveness” of US markets. Secondly, LabCFTC would like to “accelerate” engagement with innovators and other solutions providers (as outlined above).

Melissa Netram, Director and Chief Innovation Officer for LabCFTC, stated that:

“LabCFTC is at the forefront of exploring and examining the value of innovation in our financial markets and making our agency accessible to fintech innovators.

I’m excited to be a part of the agency and believe the elevation of the office speaks to the value and commitment the Chairman is placing on fostering innovation at the CFTC.”

Netram assumed directorship earlier this month, and has previously worked as Director of Global Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs at Intuit; in addition to a prior career within the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

On Netram’s new role, currency CFTC Chairman Heath Tabert (who has been in the role since last year) said the following:

“Bringing together regulators and innovators is essential for the responsible development of cutting-edge fintech products, and ultimately the long-term success of our economy.

LabCFTC is the agency’s answer to that challenge, and I look forward to Melissa’s leadership. Her expertise and vision will help take our efforts to the next level.”

Regarding LabCFTC in general, Tabert gave the following statement:

“LabCFTC was established to be a beachhead in the emerging world of fintech…

Now is the time for LabCFTC to play an even greater role as we work to develop and write the rules for these transformative new products.

That reality requires engagement at the highest levels within the CFTC, which is why I am elevating LabCFTC to be an independent operating office of the agency and a direct report to me.”

It was annnounced just a few days ago that the CFTC would be teaming up with a range of other US financial regulatory authorities (the Federal Deposit Insurance Corpiration, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency) in joining the ‘Global Financial Innovation Network’.

This partnership would see these organisations working together to “help enhance regulatory clarity and understanding for corporate stakeholders” – much akin to the strategy of LabCFTC.