In a report published last week, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the U.S. regulatory agency overseeing futures, swaps, and options, urged policymakers to address concerns related to decentralized finance (DeFi) by focusing on digital identity, know your customer (KYC), and anti-money laundering (AML) regimes. The CFTC is particularly interested in identifying individuals involved in DeFi, as the inherent anonymity of the ecosystem raises worries about money laundering, terrorism financing, and fraud.
Regulators are grappling with the challenge of regulating DeFi, given its perceived immunity to regulatory scrutiny. The use of pseudonyms and the decentralized nature of the industry make it challenging to enforce regulations and assign responsibility. The report emphasizes the importance of addressing these issues, stating that the pseudonymity and disintermediation in most DeFi systems raise serious concerns for policymakers, especially regarding the effectiveness of AML and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes.
The CFTC has been actively involved in legal actions related to DeFi. In June, the CFTC won a lawsuit against Ooki DAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), for offering unregistered commodities. By September, the CFTC had filed lawsuits against three companies involved in building prominent DeFi protocols, accusing them of offering illegal derivatives trading. The lack of clear lines of responsibility and accountability in DeFi systems is a central concern, according to Christy Goldsmith Romero, a CFTC Commissioner, highlighting the need for victim recourse, defense against exploitation, and the ability to implement necessary changes during periods of crisis and network stress.