Regulators have stepped up their efforts to rein in bitcoin after
incidents such as the collapse of Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based exchange
that filed for bankruptcy after losing an estimated $650 million
worth of customer bitcoins.
The novelty of the technology has made it hard for regulators to
categorize bitcoin, but trading derivatives such as futures or swaps
would subject companies to oversight by the Commodity Futures
"Let me tell you, (if) they've got a derivatives contract, we have
jurisdiction... and we should regulate it," Bart Chilton, a member
of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission told Reuters in an
In the past 30 days, a number of companies requested information to
see what the rules were for setting up a market place to trade
bitcoin derivatives, Chilton said.
"These are people that are inquiring about what they should do if
they wanted to request (official) status," he said.
He declined to name the companies, which have not officially filed
any paperwork to get legal status, he said.
Chilton is set to leave the commission on Friday after more than six
years with the regulator.
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Unlike conventional money, bitcoin is generated by computers and is
independent of control, or any backing, by a government or a central
bank — something its proponents like, but that also makes it
vulnerable to mishaps.
New York state's top financial services regulator, Benjamin Lawsky,
has been the most vocal about regulating bitcoin, saying last week
that he wants prospective virtual currency exchange operators to
submit formal applications.
The CFTC, which regulates futures and swaps, is also studying
whether it should regulate the new electronic currencies, its head
said last week.
(Reporting by Douwe Miedema; editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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