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“After Show” Thoughts from My Coindesk TV Segment re: CFTC Chair’s Testimony About FTX at Senate Hearing

Today, I did a segment on Coindesk TV’s morning show, First Mover, with hosts Christine Lee and Lawrence Lewitinn. We discussed the CFTC Chairman’s testimony at the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on the FTX demise and need for amendments to CFTC’s regulatory authority to increase its ability to regular crypto asset spot trading of digital asset commodities like bitcoin and ethereum.

FTX, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platforms, filed for bankruptcy earlier this month after a series of reports about its shoddy finances triggered a run on its books. FTX also lost billions of dollars in customer deposits on risky bets made by Alameda Research, an investment firm run by FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.


Summary of CFTC Chairman Benham’s Remarks:

  • noted that in the absence of stringent and uniform standards, the digital asset market rapidly expanded

  • we need to move quickly on a thoughtful regulatory approach to establish guardrails in these fast-growing markets of evolving risk, or they will remain an unsafe venture for customers and could present a growing risk to the broader financial system.

  • CFTC lacks the necessary and direct authority to write rules and to oversee this marketplace.

  • CTFC is more reactive than proactive due to constraints in the enabling legislation that created its regulatory authority. Instead, it can only reach the crypto market (or commodities market, more broadly) through more limited authority activated when fraud or manipulation has already occurred. By then, it’s already too late.

  • In the absence of direct regulatory and surveillance authority in an underlying cash market, CFTC enforcement activity begins with a referral or whistleblower tip from an external source.

  • Despite this limitation, the CFTC has brought more than 60 enforcement cases in the digital asset space since 2014, with total penalties of just over $820 million. In fiscal year 2022, more than 20% of our 82 enforcement actions involved digital assets.FN3CFTC asks Congress for Comprehensive regulation to protect customers on the front end by stopping fraud before it occurs.

  • He supports the Stabenow/Boozeman bill August 2022: Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act (DCCPA) to amend the Commodity Exchange Act to provide the Commodity Futures Trading Commission jurisdiction to oversee the spot digital commodity market

  • Under the DCCPA, FTX would not have occurred. Main failures would have fallen within the core protections under this proposed law.Consumer protection is paramount, as well as consumer education of operating safely, legally and confidently in the new digital asset economy.Comes for VPNs, as well. What’s the impact on financial and information privacy?

Finally, Chair Behnam recommended that any legislative amendment strike the right balance to provide sufficient authority and guidance but not hamstring the agency from being able to shift and adjust and evolve with the market. The House Financial Services Committee Chaired by Maxine Waters will hold its own hearing on Dec. 13th, titled “Investigating the Collapse of FTX”.

Watch the hearing and download Chair Behnam’s prepared remarks here.


Book Professor Evans for Your Event or Training @ Gravity Speakers

Catch Prof. Evans on Coindesk TV 12/2 @ 9AM ET

Just weeks before FTX, the centralized crypto exchange founded by Sam Bankman-Fried, declared bankruptcy in an epic failure and violation of trust that wiped out billions of investor dollars with risky bets of customer funds and an inability to meet withdraw demands when the bad news hit the headlines, I spoke with its then head of policy & regulatory strategy at FTX and former CFTC Commissioner, Mark Wetjen. You can listen to that interview here.

In light of the FTX collapse and the extended crypto winter, where do you think crypto regulation is going? I will talk about this and the recent Senate Agriculture Committee hearings with CFTC Chair Behnam on Coindesk TV’s First Mover Show.

Catch it here on 12/2 at 9am ET (or the replay) at Coindesk.TV.

A Message to Community-Based Banks: Evolve and THRIVE

November 30, 2022 Copyright 2022. Tonya M. Evans. All rights reserved.

Evolve or die. That has been a consistent and persistent thread running through messaging from staunch crypto advocates regarding the disruptive purpose and impact of bitcoin and the over 22,000 different types of native crypto coins and tokens in the decentralized finance (defi) ecosystem. The point is well made and correct. But I think the fear-based framing is counter-productive and misses the incredible opportunities community banks (publicly or privately owned by local community members) and credit unions (privately owned by its members) can provide in the form of better, faster, less expensive and more creative savings and loans products and features that provide greater access to banking.

Although it is true that with every passing day fintech companies, digital banks, and crypto assets, become more ubiquitous as more investors and consumers access these alternatives to traditional banking and capital asset accumulation. These technological advances in finance continue to create a customer service issue for traditional financial entities (tradfi) because some consumers—especially those who have been historically marginalized—see fintech and blockchain-enabled banking solutions more viable as an alternative to the legacy banking system.

For example, an annual Black Investor report published by Ariel Investments and Schwab, one-quarter of Black Americans (25%) currently own cryptocurrency, and among Black investors under 40, that figure jumps to 38%. Black investors are more than twice as likely to say cryptocurrency was their first investment (11% of Black investors compared to 4% of white investors).

What is a Community Bank?

Community banks are smaller banking institutions (fewer than one hundred branches) devoted to nurturing relationships and prioritizing community care, impact and involvement to provide stability and opportunity to individuals and businesses within a specific local or regional area. Contrast Community banks like credit unions with super-regional banks like PNC and Truist Financial and mega-banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan, that began to proliferate in the late 1990s.

Palm-Powered Banking

With the increased demand for 24/7/365 access to a variety of banking services (and assets) and the ability to review, move, and manage value digitally on feature-rich platforms quickly and securely.

Banks (and the agencies charged with disclosure, compliance, and consumer protection oversight) that are ready, willing, and able to commit time, talent, and resources to reskill and increase digital and new technologies competency, will also be poised to increase positive relationship-based impacts for customers in the communities in which they serve.

Evolve and thrive.