The chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Rostin Behnam, has emphasized that decentralized exchanges (DEXs) and other components of the decentralized finance (DeFi) space can indeed be subject to regulation in the United States, even though they may be considered “just code.”
Behnam shared his perspective during an interview on Bloomberg’s Odd Lots podcast this week. He stressed that the key consideration is not how an exchange is technically operated but rather the products it offers and who initially established it. He stated:
“It’s really about what U.S. customers are being provided and exposed to. And who is either the individual or group of individuals who set up that entity, that code, to offer those products?”
Behnam also highlighted that existing U.S. securities law already encompasses a wide range of digital assets, and legal precedents play a fundamental role in the regulatory framework, whether for better or worse.
CFTC Chair Rostin Behnam has affirmed the commitment to holding wrongdoers accountable in the DeFi space. He mentioned that the responsibility of regulating DeFi would fall on either the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
In the United States, the SEC typically oversees the issuance and trading of securities, while the CFTC is responsible for commodities and derivatives trading. The classification of various digital assets has been a contentious issue among regulators.
While SEC Chair Gary Gensler has explicitly labeled Bitcoin as a commodity, he has refrained from providing detailed classifications for other digital assets. In the podcast interview, Behnam also avoided specifying individual digital assets but emphasized that cryptocurrency, in general, should be regulated in a manner consistent with other financial assets. He mentioned:
“For crypto, we have to use the same playbook that we have used in the past as we think about a policy that we construct.”