Reps. Austin Scott, Stacey Plaskett Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Modernize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission
July 1, 2021
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA-08) and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.) today released the following statements upon introducing the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Research and Development Modernization Act (H.R. 4337). This bipartisan legislation would improve the relationships between the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and financial technology companies to increase the Commission’s understanding of emerging technologies and its use of new tools to more effectively regulate derivatives markets. The CFTC is the United States’ futures and derivatives regulator and is charged with ensuring competitiveness, efficiency, and financial integrity in commodity trading markets.
“American companies are at the cutting edge of new and emerging financial technologies that impact both domestic and international financial markets. To ensure the CFTC has the ability to study and learn from these FinTech innovations, I’m proud to introduce the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Research and Development Modernization Act with Rep. Stacey Plaskett. We must ensure CFTC has the tools it needs to maintain fairness and transparency in our commodity trading markets,” said Rep. Scott.
“I am very glad to introduce this legislation to better equip the CFTC with the tools it needs to maintain fairness and transparency in our commodity trading markets in the 21st century,” said Rep. Plaskett.“It’s no secret that the private sector leads the charge with innovation and that our markets are rapidly evolving with new and emerging technologies. This bipartisan legislation will improve the relationships between the CFTC and financial technology companies to increase the Commission’s understanding of emerging technologies and its use of new tools to more effectively regulate derivatives markets.”
“As the unified voice of the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry in the United States, the Blockchain Association believes that distributed ledger technology and other technological innovations are key to the future of the world economy and that we need smart, simple, and supportive legislation to make sure that the United States continues to be a leader in this ecosystem. This legislation will strengthen LabCFTC’s ability to provide critical feedback to innovators on ways to improve their products and services to better protect consumers,” said Kristin Smith, Executive Director of Blockchain Association.
“FIA is the leading trade organization for the futures, options and centrally cleared derivatives markets. Our markets allow end-users, including farmers, manufacturers, community banks and pension funds, to hedge price volatility across a wide range of currency, commodity and financial markets, helping to lower costs for consumers and free up capital for economic growth,” said Walt K. Luken, President and CEO of FIA. “The CFTC Research and Development Modernization Act would help the Commission keep pace with rapidly developing technology by providing it the authority to engage in public-private partnerships with fintech developers. This legislation will also allow the Commission to better understand emerging technologies and continue to effectively oversee the United States derivatives markets.”
“The Chamber of Commerce is proud to support the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Research and Development Modernization Act. We applaud Congressman Scott for his leadership role in helping the CFTC to better understand, through a legal mandate, the transformative potential of financial innovations such as blockchain. The Chamber’s members and the American public will benefit greatly from this legislation. In particular, the provision requiring the CFTC to develop and disseminate educational materials will benefit the US economy for years to come,” said Perianne Boring, Founder and President of the Chamber of Digital Commerce.
Financial markets are changing rapidly with the emergence of new technologies such as distributed ledger technology, machine learning, and predictive analytics. These technologies bring new opportunities and challenges to regulated derivatives markets. New technologies hold the potential to improve trade execution and settlement, simplify reporting compliance, and provide regulators with new tools for regulatory oversight.
The legislation refocuses the CFTC’s research goals on understanding these innovations and developing new tools to better regulate U.S. derivatives markets. It will allow the Commission to work more closely with technology companies to understand the software they are developing, how their applications fit into the Commission’s current rules, and what new tools might be leveraged by the Commission to improve its own regulatory purposes.
Specifically, the bill would grant the CFTC two new authorities to facilitate interactions with financial technology companies. The first would authorize the CFTC to engage in non-standard procurement transactions and enable the CFTC to collaborate on projects with financial technology (FinTech) developers. The second would authorize the CFTC to receive gifts solely for research, development and demonstration purposes, and would allow the agency to receive and use software to advance its understanding of developing financial technology. Lastly, this legislation requires an annual report detailing the use of this authority and the gift authority would be subject to a four year sunset clause.