Chris Marquette

After Iran briefings, Democrats in Congress want to know more, sooner
Republicans generally on board with Trump administration moves

Intelligence briefings on U.S. relations with Iran Tuesday left Democrats in both the Senate and the House unsure of what the Trump administration’s objectives are following recent heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, briefed lawmakers on their strategic campaign to push back against what he called “Iran’s malign activity” and described the country as participating in 40 years of terrorist activity.

Futures product to test Wall Street taste for cryptocurrencies
Startup company plans to start trading futures contracts in bitcoin

Cryptocurrencies have been viewed skeptically by some old-guard financial institutions — the head of one bank famously called bitcoin a fraud a few years back — but there’s a new plan to offer derivatives based on bitcoin that may show how deeply Wall Street is adopting new financial technology.

A startup company plans in July to start testing futures contracts in bitcoin, and begin trading them shortly after. The products, unlike cryptocurrencies themselves, aren’t designed for the masses. Bitcoin futures are meant for financial firms that want to find new ways to profit from fintech, and launching the futures contracts is essentially a bet that there’s enough demand from the big players.

Fintech industry pursues clarity on ‘token’ regulation
Advocates are finding a sympathetic ear in Congress

Financial technology advocates are seeking an answer from regulators on when things like digital tokens should be deemed to be securities, and they’re gaining a sympathetic ear in Congress.

Further clarity from regulators would encourage more U.S. growth in digital assets, the advocates say.

House bills would revisit regulation of cryptocurrencies
The bill would clarify which virtual currencies qualify as commodities, provide optional regulatory structure

House bills with bipartisan support would direct regulators to examine new ways to oversee digital assets and protect them from manipulation, as some lawmakers strive to make financial technologies more mainstream.

One bill would direct the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, consulting with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other agencies, to report to committees including Senate Banking and House Financial Services on how cryptocurrencies are regulated in the U.S. and other countries and detail the benefits of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Crypto-based funds crawl toward mom and pop
They’ll get there ‘eventually’ says one SEC commissioner

A fund based on cryptocurrency will eventually pass muster at the Securities and Exchange Commission despite the agency’s denials of all previous efforts, predicts its lone Democratic commissioner.

Robert J. Jackson Jr. expects some applicant to meet the minimum requirements for a cryptocurrency-based fund that could be traded by ordinary investors. A number of cryptocurrency-based applications await the agency’s decision, he said in an interview, though he wouldn’t speculate on whether one of those will get approval, or when.

Financial utility turns to blockchain for credit derivatives
DTCC warehouse processes 98 percent of credit derivative transactions globally

Bitcoin’s price took a beating last year, but blockchain, the technology that underpins the digital currency, continues to gain prominence in the financial industry, with the latest sign of interest coming from a financial utility company that’s adopting it for a derivatives platform.

The Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., which is owned by several large financial firms, is working on a project in which a distributed ledger like blockchain will be used for processing what’s known as credit derivatives trades. DTCC is the custodian for many of the securities owned by investors, and safeguards transactions against default by either counterparty.

Push intensifies for cryptocurrency industry to police itself
Group is working to establish an industry-sponsored regulator

BY CHRIS MARQUETTE

Proponents who tout the revolutionary potential for digital assets may turn to a more traditional model to protect investors and pre-empt additional scrutiny: self-regulation.