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US CFTC transforms its fintech research lab ‘LabCFTC’ into independent office

CFTC chairman Heath Tarbert (Image Via CFTC (YouTube))

Thu, 24 Oct 2019, 12:31 pm UTC

LabCFTC, an initiative launched by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to promote responsible fintech innovation, is being upgraded as an independent office, CoinDesk reported.

Originally designed to be a hub for the agency’s engagement with the FinTech innovation community, LabCFTC would now become an office within the CFTC and report directly to CFTC chairman Heath Tarbert. It will continue its mission of acting as the CFTC’s fintech research wing.

Since its formation back in 2017, LabCFTC has fallen under the oversight of the CFTC Office of General Counsel. So far, it has published a primer on virtual currencies and a primer on smart contracts.

“In its new capacity, LabCFTC will continue to be focused on both internal and external innovation,” Tarbert said.

LabCFTC will work towards keeping agency’s employees abreast of new technology, adopting technological tools that can help CFTC in its enforcement and anti-market manipulation missions, and gathering inputs from industry participants.

In late 2018, the group published a Request for Information (RFI) in order to better understand the technology, mechanics, and markets for cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on ether and its use on the Ethereum Network.

Citing a press release, CoinDesk reported that LabCFTC will continue “to play an even greater role” as the agency comes up with regulations for these new products.

“I want the agency to be the resource for you to help identify ways those technologies could fit into the current regulatory structure. Now that LabCFTC’s success has been demonstrated, we want to solidify its position within the agency,” Tarbert said. “Now it will take on an even bigger role here at the CFTC and be a critical link to innovators for years, and perhaps decades, to come.”

Melissa Netram is the new director of LabCFTC. Netram previously served as Intuit’s director of global public policy and regulatory affairs.

On Thursday, LabCFTC published a primer on artificial intelligence (AI) and the role of this cutting-edge technology in financial markets.

The CFTC is going to host its second annual Fintech Forward Conference today, October 24, at its Washington, DC headquarters. This year’s theme is “Exploring the Unwritten Future.” The conference is led by LabCFTC with support from the Office of Customer Education and Outreach.

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