The Winklevoss twins have taken on their next project in the cryptocurrency world: regulation.
The brothers, who run the Gemini exchange for trading Bitcoin and Ether, have submitted a proposal to create the Virtual Commodity Association, a self-regulatory organization meant to police digital-currency markets and custodians. The non-profit group would aim to develop industry standards, promote transparency and work with regulators including the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to prevent fraud.
“The promise of virtual commodities and their impact on the future will be profound — but individuals and institutions need to feel safe and secure when transacting,” the brothers wrote in a statement. “We believe a thoughtful SRO framework that provides a virtual commodity regulatory program for the virtual commodity industry is the next logical step in the maturation of this market.”
Regulators including the CFTC and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission heavily rely on self-regulatory organizations, or SROs, to help them monitor trading in everything from obscure swaps to shares in the biggest U.S. companies. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is funded by the industry, is the front-line regulator for Wall Street brokerages.
Currently, no federal regulator has direct authority over the cadre of exchanges that trade cryptocurrencies in the spot market. Instead, there’s a patchwork of state laws serving as the legal framework that critics say invites abuse and potential manipulation.
To fill the gap, CFTC Republican Commissioner Brian Quintenz has called for cryptocurrency exchanges to form a private regulator or SRO. In a Tuesday statement, he praised the Winklevoss plan.
“I congratulate Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss on their energetic leadership and thoughtful approach in outlining a virtual commodity self-regulatory organization (SRO) concept,” he said. “I encourage Gemini (or any other market participant, advocacy group, platform, or firm) to be aggressive in promoting these qualities within any SRO construct.”
The Virtual Commodity Association would be funded by membership fees and would be open to trading venues that cater to U.S. investors. Members would be required to adhere to certain rules related to fiscal responsibility, cybersecurity and information sharing, and would face sanctions if they didn’t comply.