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LabCFTC Director: In crisis, innovation in finance can “take us to the next stage”

The U.S. regulator, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission, announced the first CFTC scientific contest, Project Streetlamp , earlier this week . Cointelegraph had the opportunity to speak to Melissa Netram, who is the director of innovation and director of the commission's fintech office, LabCFTC.

Netram assumed the role of Daniel Gorfine in September. Cointelegraph welcomes your views on the progress at LabCFTC since then, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its plans for future development.

Financial regulation under COVID-19

The current pandemic has taken center stage for US lawmakers and regulators. In the USA, and some asked to stop all work that is not directly related to the new coronavirus. The CFTC is not an exception. “With the crisis, the commission as a whole has had to readjust priorities ,” Netram said.

LabCFTC Director: In crisis, innovation in finance can “take us to the next stage”
LabCFTC Director: In crisis, innovation in finance can “take us to the next stage”

However, the details of the coronavirus have somehow fueled financial technologies. Netram said:

“My official point of view, now more than ever, I think that in times of crisis you see how technology and innovation can help us move to the next stage.”

Despite certain obvious limits to what the commission can do right now, “there are many things behind the scenes that can continue to happen. As we all know, regulation can be time consuming,” Netram said. “Behind the scenes, LabCFTC will focus on some of its initiatives to promote responsible innovation.”

Missions accomplished since you joined

Netram stated that the objective of LabCFTC is “To promote dialogue between innovators and regulators at the CFTC” . He described the office as “an intercommission gate for investors to come in and speak to the commission.”

The elevation of LabCFTC to a separate office was a priority when Netram entered and, according to their account, has given the office more freedom to operate with all CFTC divisions. I was satisfied with the way this has enabled LabCFTC to keep the entire cryptocurrency commission up to date:

“As an entity looks at how we do X, which may have to do with some digital asset or how they launch some kind of digital asset, we will have some of our colleagues contact us saying, 'Can you give us some background on assets digital? '”

Working at a technology company in the private sector, Netram's primary concerns for LabCFTC have been making the office more accessible to people in the industry. “At that technology company, I was across the table, talking to government officials.” A simple solution, but somehow new? Office hours :

“One of the first things we did since I was on board was, let's say, there had to be more clarity on how to communicate with us. So we established office hours.”

The next steps

In keeping with his concern that the correct members of the CFTC are talking to industry stakeholders when they communicate, Netram plans a new intake form to accompany future meetings. She says: “The admission form will provide more clarity on why they are entering.”

“Another thing, behind the scenes, that we will try to highlight in 2020, is education,” said Netram. That includes the Fintech Forward conference, though it may have to be “reinvented” to cope with current quarantine measures.

What about basic manuals? The series of educational summaries on the LabCFTC site is useful, but limited and outdated. There are only three: in virtual currencies, smart contracts and artificial intelligence in finance. Cointelegraph asked if updates and new manuals should be expected, to which Netram's response was “definitely”.

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