Bitcoin Has Elements Of Many Different Asset Classes, Says CFTC’s Giancarlo

News | May 3, 2018 By:

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo said that bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies have elements of many different asset classes.

In an interview with CNBC at the annual Milken Conference in Los Angeles, Giancarlo said that bitcoin is a little bit of everything. It is part currency, part security, and part digital coin.

“Bitcoin and a lot of its other virtual currency counterparts really have elements of all of the different asset classes, whether they’re meeting payment, whether it’s a long-term asset,” he said. “We see elements of commodity in it that are subject to our regulations, but depending on which regulatory regime you’re looking at, it has different aspects of all of that.”

The CFTC chairman also said that bitcoin has some attributes that are similar to the way gold behaves as an asset.

“There are certainly aspects of this that you might call a virtual asset, like gold, only it’s virtual, it’s digital,” he said. “But it is an asset that many find worthy of holding for a long time and that has aspects to it that might not be ideal as a medium of exchange, that might be more suited as a buy and hold strategy.”

During the event, Giancarlo called for “respect” for “this generation’s interest” in bitcoin, citing the financial crisis of 2008 as spurring interest in the financial innovation.

“There is something going on here that is generational,” he said. “Just as the baby boomer generation lost faith in the leaders that came before them and tried to seek a cultural change in those days through sex, drugs and rock and roll, I think there is a generation that also has lost faith in us that led them through the financial crisis and they see technology as a way of disintermediating institutions for which they don’t have a great deal of respect.”

Giancarlo also said that the CFTC and US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are struggling to find out how they apply an old law to really new and different applications. But he stressed that new policies must be made at the legislative level.

“At the end of the day, it’s for Congress, and not regulators, to decide whether new policies should be evolved for these new asset classes,” he said.