The head of the U.S. commodities regulator had a clear message during a speech on Friday: he is not an evangelist for cryptocurrencies.
Speaking at Vanderbilt Law School last week, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo addressed the notoriety he experienced after delivering remarks that appeared sympathetic to bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
As previously reported, Giancarlo testified before a Senate committee on the topic in February, notably saying that “we owe it to this new generation to respect their enthusiasm about virtual currencies with a thoughtful and balanced response, not a dismissive one.”
He added at the time that it is important for policymakers to educate themselves about the topic, while at the same time cracking down on the fraudsters who take advantage of investors’ enthusiasm.
As Giancarlo relayed on Friday, those comments in February won plaudits from the cryptocurrency community, tens of thousands of Twitter followers, and a new nickname and hashtag: #CryptoDad.
Yet he didn’t want the attention the remarks brought, telling event attendees:
“I neither expected nor desired that a few words spoken during a Senate hearing broadcast on C-SPAN would lead to an Andy Warhol ’15 minutes of fame.’ Nor was I – or am I – a virtual currency evangelist.”
Giancarlo continued by pointing out that “get rich quick schemers” and “shady entrepreneurs” are common in the cryptocurrency sector, but that they are joined by “a growing contingent of professional, institutional users.”
“What I had acknowledged at that Senate hearing is the existence of a community that views technology as an agent of social change. Many of them have come of age during the 2008 financial crisis – the same crisis to which Bitcoin had emerged in response,” he went on to say.
Turning to the subject of regulation, Giancarlo pointed out that the Commodity Exchange Act contains no reference to cyrptocurrencies, so the law must be reinterpreted to fit new technology – assuming it is not revised by legislators. “
It is like an old computer operating system that struggles to support this new and complex application,” he said.