Chairman of the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Rostin Behnam has called Ethereum a commodity and not a security, in apparent contrast to U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler who has consistently argued that every cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin falls under securities laws.

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Fast facts

  • Behnam, speaking to the Senate Agriculture Committee in a Wednesday hearing, argued that Ethereum had been listed on CFTC exchanges for quite some time, and that creates a “direct jurisdictional hook” for the agency to police both ETH’s derivatives market and the underlying market. 
  • “We would not have allowed the Ether futures product to be listed on a CFTC exchange if we did not feel strongly that it was a commodity asset,” he added. 
  • The debate of whether cryptocurrencies should be classified as securities or commodities has picked up steam among regulators over the past several years, as it would determine which agency assumes chief oversight of the digital assets. The crypto industry has widely voiced support for CFTC as a preferred regulator over the SEC. 
  • According to Gensler, proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies such as Etherium pass the Howey Test, which refers to a U.S. Supreme Court case for determining whether a transaction qualifies as a security asset. 
  • Behnam also seemed to diverge from Gensler on stablecoins. While the SEC threatened to charge Paxos for issuing BUSD as an unregistered security last month, Behnam has said that stablecoins should be considered commodities in the absence of new legislation for stablecoins. 

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