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CFTC-linked US futures self-regulator issues new rules for digital assets

The United States Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO) for the derivatives markets is now extending its jurisdiction to the digital assets market. The National Futures Association (NFA) says it can now punish members who commit misconduct related to digital assets.

NFA recently adopted Compliance Rule 2-51, imposing “anti-fraud, just and equitable principles of trade, and supervision requirements on NFA Members and Associates that engage in digital asset commodity activities.”

NFA is an SRO for the U.S. derivatives industry, ranging from exchange-traded futures to over-the-counter swaps and off-exchange foreign currency exchange. It registers firms in the sector, takes disciplinary actions against members who break its rules, mediates disputes, creates best practices, and more. It operates under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), a regulator embroiled in a supremacy battle with the SEC over the Bitcoin industry jurisdiction.

NFA says that over 100 of its members currently deal in digital assets, both in commodity interests and spot markets. However, until now, the watchdog has yet to issue any Bitcoin-specific guidelines.

Compliance Rule 2-51 will allow the watchdog to discipline any member who commits fraud or misconduct relating to digital assets.

In addition, “members engaged in spot digital asset commodity activities must adopt and implement appropriate supervisory policies and procedures over these activities.”

CFTC supports the new rule, Commissioner Caroline Pham said in her statement.

“This is a clear example of using existing authority to ensure that there are customer protections in place because registration with the NFA requires that firms and individuals comply with NFA rules,” said Pham, a tough critic of the SEC’s approach to digital asset regulations.

The NFA rule currently only applies to BTC and Ether, which it defines as digital asset commodities (in line with the CFTC’s stand). However, Pham says that the SRO can extend the scope to include other digital asset commodities in the future.

While the NFA imposes itself on the industry, it’s still unclear who has the ultimate jurisdiction over the crypto industry between the SEC and CFTC. Both have ramped up regulatory actions against the sector, with the SEC cracking down on securities violations—guided by the Howey Test—while the CFTC cracks down on commodities rules violators, most recently serial lawbreaker Binance.

Watch: Law & Order: Regulatory Compliance for Blockchain & Digital Assets

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