CFTC Commissioner Criticizes SEC For Barring Bitcoin ETFs

Bitcoin Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)–The debate surrounding the approval of Bitcoin ETFs appears to be heating up. On the same week that an interview leaked all but confirming the future approval of a BTC Exchange-Traded Fund by the United States Securities & Exchange Commission, an official for CFTC has weighed in with his two cents.

Brian Quintenz, a Commissioner for the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has issued an argument against the SEC for their continued stance in denying Bitcoin based ETFs. In particular, Quintenz argues that the SEC has no official grounds for denying BTC ETFs proposal in comprehensive manner they have issued thus far, making the claim that price manipulation–a common point brought up by the SEC in its issued statement on bid rejections–should not constitute grounds for disapproval.

Quintenz made his comments during a panel at the BiPartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C. on February 12, speaking alongside SEC Commissioner Heister Peirce. While Peirce has gained favor from cryptocurrency audiences and coin investors for her positive stance towards digital assets and her dissent against her regulatory body employer for denying BTC ETFs–enough to gain her the moniker “Crypto Mom”–it does little to change the fact that the SEC has been uncharacteristically frustrating towards the advancement of crypto-based exchange-traded funds. Bitcoin, with a market capitalization over $60 billion dollars, warrants greater interest from the regulatory body than what is currently being doled out.

In past rulings on BTC ETF proposals, the SEC has regularly cited concerns over price manipulation, taking the stance that Bitcoin and other digital assets are too at risk for the sway of market forces and whale investors. Quintenz, for what it’s worth, pointed out that his organization has had to contend with the potential for manipulation in issuing and guaranteeing BTC futures, stating the CFTC’s control of Bitcoin Futures contracts,

“Requires that they not be readily susceptible to manipulation.”

In essence, Quintenz is throwing down the gauntlet to the U.S. SEC making the claim that if his organization is capable of handling and contending with the potential for market manipulation for digital currencies, a regulatory body as large as the Securities & Exchange Commission should be more than capable of rising to the occasion.

Quintenz also dove into the semantics of the SEC’s statements blocking BTC ETF approvals, making the point that saying BTC is “readily susceptible” is too broad of a qualification, and that the same terms could apply to nearly any product in the traditional markets if give enough time and effort to manipulate.

One of the more interesting points Quintenz argued was that having the SEC’s approval and creation of an ETF would actually improve the standing of Bitcoin and the regulatory landscape, leading greater credence and legitimacy to digital assets that would have broader market ramifications. While the SEC may see the current landscape of cryptocurrency as a proverbial “Wild West” for financial products, Quintenz and others argue that the weight of government agencies would inspire confidence in Wall Street and other institutional investors to to enter the crypto markets, thereby imparting greater legitimacy, acceptance and growth for the space.