On May 10, 2016, US Commodity and Futures Trading Commission Commissioner Christopher Giancarlo discussed the potential of distributed ledger technology, which he called “the biggest technological innovation in the financial services industry and financial market regulation in a generation or more.” He noted the potential for distributed ledger technology to reduce dependence on third parties, mitigate centralized systemic risk and perform margin payments in the event of a counterparty default. In addition to the operational and transactional advantages that distributed ledger technology could bring to firms, Giancarlo suggested that it could also help financial market regulators in overseeing the broader financial market. As he has done in prior speeches, Giancarlo emphasized that in order for this technology to flourish, regulators must take a “do no harm” approach. He noted that regulations regarding distributed ledger technology are likely years away but suggested five steps for regulators to take to ensure that they “do no harm” to allow for distributed ledger technology innovation. Specifically, he recommended that the CFTC and other regulators designate teams to work collaboratively with FinTech companies, foster a regulatory environment that spurs innovation, participate directly in proof of concepts to ensure they understand the technology, work with innovators to determine how rules and regulations should be adopted and collaborate globally.
Commissioner Giancarlo’s speech is available at: http://www.cftc.gov/PressRoom/SpeechesTestimony/opagiancarlo-15.