Giancarlo Assails ‘Defensive and Reactionary’ Crypto Policy and Calls for Single U.S. Watchdog

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Christopher Giancarlo, the former chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), said turf battles between federal agencies were bad for crypto and joined Coinbase’s call for the creation of a single regulator overseeing digital assets.

“They’re absolutely right that there should be a single regulator,” Giancarlo said during a panel in Washington on Jan. 4 hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank. 

Giancarlo said there was persistent disagreement between the CFTC and SEC regarding who holds jurisdiction over digital assets. “That battle’s not going away. The SEC’s not going to run from this. The CFTC is not going to yield,” he said.

Crypto Bureau

Giancarlo recommended building out the cryptocurrency working group between the CFTC and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that was created last year into a designated crypto bureau with “its own authorization and its own financing.

“Take the ad-hoc cryptocurrency working group that I and Jay Clayton created between the CFTC and SEC and develop it into a bureau, a crypto bureau, which would have joint parentage of the SEC and the CFTC,”  he said. “At the end of the day, you can’t have multiple regulators.” (Jay Clayton was the chair of the SEC from 2017 to 2020).

Giancarlo, the author of CryptoDad: The Fight for the Future of Money, was chairman of the CFTC from 2017 to 2019. Since then he has become an advocate for digital assets who also wants to make sure the fledgling industry doesn’t bend or break the rules. He’s urged lawmakers to recognize that digital money is becoming as ubiquitous as text messages. And he’s argued that blockchain technology can address financial inclusion and improve efficiency in the capital markets. Yesterday he warned failing to act will “lay bare the shortcomings of our aged, analog financial systems.”

World Powers

To that end, Giancarlo criticized the “highly defensive and reactionary” policy response from Biden’s administration. He warned that failing to modernize the U.S.’s aging financial infrastructure will leave the country at a competitive disadvantage to rival world powers like China. 

The former regulator said the administration is more preoccupied with “what could go wrong” as a consequence of growing cryptocurrency adoption “rather than what could go right if innovation is properly channeled.” He also blasted the government for failing to declare “any national imperative to harness digital-asset innovation to upgrade our creaky, exclusive financial system.” 

“It typically takes days in the United States to settle and clear retail bank transfers, while in many other countries it takes mere minutes if not seconds,” said Giancarlo. “It is often faster to move money around the globe by stuffing cash in a suitcase and hopping on a plane than it is to send a wire transfer […] Thanks to stablecoins, value is now transferable around the world in nanoseconds.”

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