Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman Heath Tarbert stated today that “ether is a commodity”. At the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit, Tarbert, who was appointed as chairman in July, stated that he believes ETH is a commodity, thus falling under the regulation of the CFTC.
Last December, the CFTC started asking for feedback on virtual currencies besides bitcoin, specifically ether and the Ethereum network, to have a better understanding of the different technology. Back in March, CFTC commissioner Brian Quintenz published a statement that called for comments regarding “potential new virtual currency-based futures and derivatives products”, implying there would be ether derivatives arriving to the US soon.
At the summit, held in New York City, Tarbert mentioned that the agency had never said anything about ether being a commodity in the past and, like Quintenz, anticipated that ether futures trading are coming to U.S markets in the near future. He also stated that he agrees with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) announcement from June 2018 stating that ether wasn’t classified under the definition of security and that the definition wouldn’t change to include cryptocurrencies, and that both agencies are working to solve any issues regarding the previous statement.
In relation to the ambiguity regarding the status of different cryptocurrencies, the chairman stated that “similar digital assets should be treated similarly” and that forked assets should be treated the same as their original counterparts by regulators: “if the original digital asset hasn’t been determined to be a security and is therefore a commodity, most likely the forked asset will be the same”.
When asked about how the CFTC views coins offered through ICOs, Tarbert mentioned that although a coin may have started as a security, eventually the asset might get more decentralized, adding a tangible value to it and becoming a commodity.