US lawmakers urge CFTC and SEC to form joint working group on digital assets


Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives called on the heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Futures Trading Commission to work with participants in the crypto space for transparency and regulatory clarity.

In a Monday tweet, Rep. Glenn Thompson said he sent a letter with spokesman Patrick McHenry to the CFTC and SEC, urging the agencies to “establish a joint working group on digital assets.” Thompson and McHenry asked SEC chair Gary Gensler and interim CFTC president Rostin Behnam to “promote active dialogue” between federal regulators and participants in the crypto market.

“A working group on digital assets would enable the SEC and CFTC to explore how to effectively use their current jurisdiction collaboratively,” the letter said. “Such a working group can grow a transparent engagement with innovators in the digital asset ecosystem. While Congress is planning additional legislation to address regulatory gaps, this work could give us additional information and clarity as we make these important policy decisions.”

The representatives added:

“Legislators and regulators need to work together to properly balance protective innovation with any new regulations to ensure the digital stock market thrives in the United States.”

The letter seems to apply political pressure for the two government agencies to act on their own to form a joint working group instead of waiting for the legal force. In April this year, the House passed a bill introduced by McHenry aimed at clarifying the regulatory role of agencies such as the SEC and CFTC on crypto.

HR 1602, the Law Removing Barriers to Innovation, gives Congress 90 days to establish the said working group with the participation of the SEC, CFTC and the crypto industry. However, the bill was reported to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs in the Senate.

“Nothing prevents the SEC and CFTC from undertaking similar activities under existing law,” Thompson and McHenry said.

Many experts on crypto and blockchain have argued that the lack of regulatory clarity in the United States can harm the industry. Currently the SEC, CFTC and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network are handling digital assets regulation in the country, but with different jurisdictional claims, resulting in mixed access companies must navigate in order to operate legally.

Related: The SEC has no authority over crypto, argues a CFTC commissioner

The SEC often determines whether tokens are securities using the Howey test, with President Gary Gensler arguing that the crypto industry, including decentralized exchanges, belongs to the federal agency’s regulatory region. However, CFTC commissioner Dawn Stump told Cointelegraph that the government body “does not regulate crypto assets even if they are commodities.”