J. Christopher Giancarlo
J. Christopher Giancarlo is senior counsel and co-chair of the Willkie Digital Works practice of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
He is a former chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The U.S. Senate confirmed him in that role on August 3, 2017. He was appointed acting chairman at the commission in January 20, 2017 and stepped down from the post in July of 2019, concluding one five-year term.
Giancarlo aimed to transform the CFTC into a more forward-looking and modern regulator. He pushed the CFTC to become a "quantitative regulator" to better handle market data, created the LabCFTC to assist and understand financial technology companies and pushed a KISS (keep it simple stupid) agenda geared toward simplifying and streamlining regulations. Giancarlo said "regulation should never be based on a crude measure of the quantity of regulation, but the quality of regulation and oversight." 
He assumed the role of acting chairman after Timothy Massad stepped down from that role in January 2017.  He was nominated as a commissioner by President Barack Obama in August 2013 and sworn in on June 16, 2014. He replaced Jill Sommers, who left in July 2013.
Giancarlo joined GFI in April 2001 following the acquisition of Fenics, where he structured strategic alliances with investment banks. Before joining Fenics in 2000, he worked at the law firm Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner, LLP as a corporate partner from 1997-2000. He joined Brown Raysman from Giancarlo & Gleiberman, a law practice he founded in 1992 following his return from several years in London with the international law firm of Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle.
He was a founding co-editor-in-chief of eSecurities, Trading and Regulation on the Internet (Leader Publications). He has testified three times before Congress regarding the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act.
He served two terms as chairman of the Wholesale Markets Brokers' Association, Americas (WMBAA) and has spoken out frequently about allowing flexible rules for derivatives trading platforms such as swap execution facilities that are aimed at OTC market participants. 
Before his business career, Giancarlo was a corporate partner in the New York law firm of Brown Raysman Millstein Felder and Steiner, where he advised technology businesses on corporate and finance transactions. He joined that firm from Giancarlo & Gleiberman, a law practice he founded in 1992 following his return from several years practicing law in London with the international law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle. 
Cryptocurrency and Blockchain
In February 2018, Giancarlo told the Senate Banking Committee that digital assets, blockchain technology, virtual currency and other emerging financial technologies "are taking us into a new chapter of economic history." He also said that, although bitcoin and other digital assets are considered commodities, the CFTC does not have jurisdiction on spot trading for digital assets. He emphasized the need for regulators to have "perspective" and encouraged those at the CFTC, the SEC and other federal and state regulators and criminal authorities to work together to create "forward-thinking" regulations for digital asset trading and the implementation of blockchain technology.
In October, Giancarlo said that regulating cryptocurrency derivatives markets is best handled by taking a "two-handed approach." On one hand, he said that it is the duty of regulators like the CFTC to crack down on those using digital assets to commit fraud and other crimes. On the other hand, he said that these problems are in part due to a lack of a market infrastructure, which he said would develop naturally as institutional investors move into the space.
In November, Giancarlo said in a talk at Georgetown University's Fintech Week Conference that distributed ledger technology like blockchain could potentially benefit market watchdogs like the CFTC by improving the efficiency of regulatory processes.
In September of 2022 he was named among the “Most Popular Cryptocurrency Lawyers of 2022” by CoinsCapture, a cryptocurrency market data provider.
Giancarlo has long maintained a balanced, "do no harm" view on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Though he has repeatedly affirmed the presence of widespread criminal activity in the crypto space, including fraud and theft, he has also emphasized the need for regulators to allow room for innovators within the space to flourish.
Giancarlo has explicitly said that he is "not a cryptocurrency evangelist." He has said that he does not want to be dismissive of the "new generation" of digital asset traders, despite his role as a regulator. He has also said that, although he does not believe that bitcoin or altcoins will necessarily replace fiat currencies, they "may solve some of the problems" in parts of the world in which local currencies have low value relative to currencies like the U.S. dollar.
"Crypto Dad" and departure from the CFTC
Giancarlo's stance on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology led the online crypto community to give him the nickname "Crypto Dad," echoing the "Crypto Mom" nickname given to the SEC's Hester Peirce. In an open letter written by Giancarlo and published by Coindesk shortly before his retirement as chairman of the CFTC, Giancarlo said he was "humbled" by the nickname. In the letter, Giancarlo urged readers to embrace cryptocurrency and blockchain in the name of keeping up with the "extraordinary" pace of technological change and protecting the free markets. He also discouraged the idea of markets being controlled by politics and "human enterprise" while urging for a balance between policy, regulatory oversight, private sector innovation and "a little bit of courage."
In September 2019, Giancarlo joined the board of directors for the American Financial Exchange (AFX) and the advisory board for the Chamber of Digital Commerce. Regarding the latter, he said he was looking forward to joining a group dedicated to the promotion of crypto and blockchain technology, and that he hoped that "together we can streamline and modernize the regulatory environment and encourage further blockchain innovation.”
John Lothian News Interview
Chris Giancarlo of GFI Group Discusses the Need for Regulatory Balance
MarketsReformWiki Featured Commentary
On October 12, 2011, Giancarlo testified before the House Committee on Agriculture on the subject of proposed changes to the Dodd-Frank Act regarding swap execution facilities. His testimony was summarized into a commentary featured on MarketsReformWiki.
White Paper on Swaps Execution at MarketsReformWiki
Giancarlo graduated from Skidmore college with a B.A. He went on to receive a law degree from Vanderbilt University.
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