J. Christopher Giancarlo

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J. Christopher Giancarlo
Chris giancarlo.jpg
Occupation Chairman
Employer CFTC
Location Washington, D.C.
Twitter @CFTC
Personal Twitter @giancarloCFTC
LinkedIn Profile
Website CFTC.gov

J. Christopher Giancarlo is chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The U.S. Senate confirmed him in that role on August 3, 2017. He had been acting chairman at the commission since January 20, 2017.[1]

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Cryptocurrency and Blockchain

Giancarlo has maintained an even stance on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, especially regarding regulation. In February 2018, he said in a talk to the Senate Banking Committee in Washington, D.C. that digital assets and blockchain technology that virtual currency and other emerging financial technologies "are taking us into a new chapter of economic history." He also said that, although bitcoin and other digital assets are considered commodities, the CFTC does not have jurisdiction on spot trading for digital assets. He emphasized the need for regulators to have "perspective" and encouraged those at the CFTC, the SEC and other federal and state regulators and criminal authorities to work together to create "forward-thinking" regulations for digital asset trading and the implementation of blockchain technology.[2]

In October, Giancarlo said that regulating cryptocurrency derivatives markets is best handled by taking a "two-handed approach." On one hand, he said that it is the duty of regulators like the CFTC to crack down on those using digital assets to commit fraud and other crimes. On the other hand, he said that these problems are in part due to a lack of a market infrastructure, which he said would develop naturally as institutional investors move into the space.[3]

In November, Giancarlo said in a talk at Georgetown University's Fintech Week Conference that distributed ledger technology like blockchain could potentially benefit market watchdogs like the CFTC by improving the efficiency of regulatory processes.[4]

Crypto-agnostic

Giancarlo has long maintained a balanced, "do no harm" view on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Though he has repeatedly affirmed the presence of widespread criminal activity in the crypto space, including fraud and theft, he has also emphasized the need for regulators to allow room for innovators within the space to flourish.[5][6]

Giancarlo has explicitly said that he is "not a cryptocurrency evangelist." He has said that he does not want to be dismissive of the "new generation" of digital asset traders, despite his role as a regulator.[7] He has also said that, although he does not believe that bitcoin or altcoins will necessarily replace fiat currencies, they "may solve some of the problems" in parts of the world in which local currencies have low value relative to currencies like the U.S. dollar.[8]

"Crypto Dad" and departure from the CFTC

Giancarlo's stance on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology compelled the online crypto community to give him the nickname "Crypto Dad," echoing the similar nickname of the SEC's Hester Peirce. In an open letter written by Giancarlo and published by Coindesk shortly before his retirement as chairman of the CFTC, he said he was "humbled" by the nickname. In the letter, Giancarlo also expressed gratitude for his time in the position and urged readers to embrace cryptocurrency and blockchain in the name of keeping up with the "extraordinary" pace of technological change and protecting the free markets. In his final three paragraphs, he also discouraged the idea of markets being controlled by political control and "human enterprise" while urging for a balance between policy, regulatory oversight, private sector innovation and "a little bit of courage."[9]

In September 2019, Giancarlo joined the board of directors for the American Financial Exchange (AFX), and the advisory board for the Chamber of Digital Commerce. Regarding the latter, he said he was looking forward to joining a group dedicated to the promotion of crypto and blockchain technology, and that he hoped that "together we can streamline and modernize the regulatory environment and encourage further blockchain innovation.”[10][11]

References