Digital Currency Derivatives Exchanges Prepare for Regulation after CFTC Bitcoin Ruling

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Only a week after ruling that bitcoin and other digital currencies are commodities, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced on Thursday that they have settled charges filed against TeraExchange LLC (Tera) for arranging a “non-deliverable forward contract” last October.

Neither of the parties entering the trade were looking to profit off of future bitcoin price changes, but rather to test Tera’s network. However, Tera subsequently released a press release that indicated the pre-arranged swap was a real trade, which would violate both the Swap Execution Facility (SEF) Core Principles found in the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations.

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This was the first charge filed by the CFTC against a bitcoin exchange following last week’s announcement, which gave the CFTC jurisdiction over online bitcoin exchange and derivative markets.

Other digital currency platforms that offer similar services have prepared for this moment. LedgerX applied for both an SEF and Derivatives Clearing Organization license last year but has received only a temporary SEF registration at this point.

In a statement released September 10th, CEO Paul Chao said, “[LedgerX does] not intend to launch with only [an] SEF license… Only with both SEF and DCO licenses from the CFTC can we clear and physically deliver the underlying commodity, offer an order-book trading venue, and attract institutional traders.”

LedgerX has even contracted Ancoa, a surveillance technology provider in order to identify “manipulative behaviors and suspicious trading practices” on the LedgerX platform, according to a statement released earlier this year.

While this type of regulation might seem counterintuitive, as it forces exchanges to push back release dates, industry players welcome the oversight. In a private interview, Alt-Options co-founder Marco Cuesta conveyed that “[the CFTC’s] regulation does positively impact the bitcoin derivative market, since its purpose is to protect clients and their assets. As regulation for the Bitcoin derivative market becomes more aligned with that of traditional financial markets, there should be wider adoption, which is good for the industry.”

Image via CFTC

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