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CFTC chair says ETH is a commodity; anticipates ETH derivatives to trade in the US soon

Celia Wan

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair believes that ether (ETH) is a commodity, according to Yahoo Finance.

At the Yahoo Finance Summit today, CFTC chair Heath Tarbert said he believes that ETH falls under the oversight of the CFTC and anticipated the CFTC allowing ether derivatives to trade on the U.S. market in the near future.

“We've been very clear on bitcoin: bitcoin is a commodity. We haven't said anything about ether—until now,” Tarbert said at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit. “It is my view as chairman of the CFTC that ether is a commodity.” 

Tarbert also emphasized the importance of the U.S. taking a leadership role in digital assets, as it has in previous technology revolutions.

“I want to stress the importance of blockchain and digital assets to the United States, and in particular, as CFTC Chairman, I want the U.S. to lead in this technology.”

His remarks on the importance of the technology and the role the U.S. has to play echoed those former CFTC head and "Crypto Dad" Christopher Giancarlo made in a recent interview with The Block.

In March, CFTC commissioner Brian Quintenz hinted at the arrival of ether derivatives, saying that the regulator has been seeking comments regarding "potential new virtual currency-based futures and derivatives products."

At the time, Quintenz pointed out that ethereum's planned move from proof of work to proof of stake consensus mechanism could create potential problems such as market manipulation. 

In 2018, the regulator sought public comments on “virtual currencies beyond Bitcoin, namely here ether and its use on the Ethereum Network” to better understand the technology.

The CFTC declared virtual currencies to be a “commodity” subject to the agency’s oversight in 2014.