CFTC renews efforts amid explosion in retail trading of futures, options, crypto

The CFTC has reorganized the agency’s FinTech and customer protection efforts in order to address changing markets and market demographics, the regulator said in a statement. 

CFTC Chairman Behnam announced the creation of the Office of Technology Innovation (OTI), formerly LabCFTC, and named Jorge Herrada as its director. In addition, finTech specialist Jason Somensatto will join the Chairman’s Office along with legal advisor David Felsenthal.

The regulator also announced the realignment of the Office of Customer Education and Outreach (OCEO) within the Office of Public Affairs. This aims to respond to the unprecedented rise in retail futures, options, and digital asset trading.

Steve Adamske, the director of the Office of Public Affairs, will serve as interim director of OCEO.

Rostin Behnam, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said: “The accelerated engagement with FinTech through LabCFTC fulfilled its mission as set forth by former Chairman Giancarlo, and the clear intersection between financial innovation and our markets now requires an updated strategy.

“Our resources will be better utilized through an Office of Technology Innovation, reporting directly to the Chairman’s office and staffed by a Director, a FinTech Policy and Technology Specialist, a strategic Communications and Education leader, and rotational opportunities for all CFTC employees to gain exposure and expertise”, he continued.

“As new participants and infrastructure providers access and participate in our markets, the CFTC has a greater responsibility to provide trusted and verifiable information, education and outreach. Customers and market participants alike must act responsibly, and it is incumbent upon regulators to ensure that the investing public, including those in underserved communities, has the tools and information to make informed decisions that may impact their personal finances and the larger markets. OCEO is well equipped to do just that.”

Jorge Herrada, the new director of the Office of Technology Innovation, joins the CFTC after one year as the Senior Technology Advisor to the TechLab at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where he helped to guide the vision and experiments regarding Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

He specializes in advanced technology, analytics, finance, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), and cryptocurrencies, having led the CFTC’s DLT Subcommittee, and the High-Frequency Subcommittee.

Jason Somensatto, who joins Chairman Behnam’s office as FinTech Policy Specialist, joined the CFTC last year as Acting Director of LabCFTC. He’s been active in the development of exchange infrastructure for the digital asset market.

David Felsenthal, the newly appointed counsel to the Chairman, works on issues related to digital assets, climate, and other matters, having led the derivatives practice at Clifford Chance US LLP.