What is GuidePoint?

GuidePoint is an integral part of LabCFTC, which offers an additional, dedicated point of contact to the fintech innovator community. GuidePoint provides fintech innovators with a simple, direct channel to obtain feedback on inquiries in support of responsible innovation. GuidePoint also provides an opportunity to inform Commission staff of relevant issues and suggestions to enhance fintech development. If you have a GuidePoint inquiry or suggestion, you may contact us at [email protected].

What is the mission of GuidePoint?

The mission of LabCFTC’s GuidePoint is to promote responsible innovation by assisting entities engaged in fintech development to understand and to operate within the CFTC’s regulatory framework. GuidePoint provides fintech innovators with relevant feedback on specific ideas and applications of fintech. Through GuidePoint, CFTC staff can help entities focus on the information and resources most likely to be useful, and GuidePoint offers an additional, dedicated channel for them to raise issues or concerns.

GuidePoint will also help the Commission to monitor whether the current regulatory framework supports fintech innovation. GuidePoint serves as a means for the CFTC to learn about areas where consideration of regulatory action may be appropriate to keep pace with advances in technology. We are especially interested to engage where an innovation may raise novel or complex regulatory questions or concerns.

What does GuidePoint offer?

GuidePoint facilitates fintech innovation in three principal ways:

  • Additional Point of Contact. GuidePoint provides an additional, dedicated point of contact within the CFTC, who can help ensure your inquiry is properly directed and receives a timely response. In this capacity, through GuidePoint, the LabCFTC Team can serve as a facilitator helping innovators to frame questions so that Commission staff responses are on point.
  • General information. GuidePoint will provide entities with generalized information consisting of publicly available material regarding registration requirements, processes, and compliance; the CFTC’s regulatory framework and relevant Commission and staff actions; and other public resources which may be useful to innovators in developing and implementing their ideas. Information provided may include previously published materials, including rulemaking documents, Commission and staff letters, and FAQs.
  • Individual feedback. The scope of feedback offered will depend on the needs of each firm and be tailored to the inquiry. Feedback may address the application of the CFTC regulatory framework to a new business model or service, for example, or an explanation of the factors set forth in a particular regulation that staff consider when making an assessment. Such feedback may include information that, particularly at an early stage, could help innovators/entities save time and money by helping them understand relevant regulations and the CFTC’s approach to oversight.

In the case of both general and individual feedback, LabCFTC’s GuidePoint strives to share knowledge and perspective with entities that may not have familiarity with CFTC regulated markets, rules, and processes.

Neither the LabCFTC Team nor GuidePoint have any independent decision-making or delegated authority.

While GuidePoint is designed to facilitate contact between the CFTC and the innovator community and is set up to manage timely and efficient processing of inquiries within the agency, the use or availability of GuidePoint does not in any way prohibit entities from contacting the CFTC through other established channels. Entities that use GuidePoint remain free to engage with the Commission and CFTC staff by any additional or alternate means they desire.

It must be understood that LabCFTC’s GuidePoint cannot provide legal advice or regulatory relief. Engagement with GuidePoint shall not create estoppel against CFTC or other enforcement actions. Each entity remains responsible for compliance with any relevant regulatory or legal requirements. Any requests for relief must be addressed by relevant CFTC staff or, as necessary, by the Commission. Further details regarding GuidePoint are set forth below.

Who is eligible to use GuidePoint?

Inquiries to GuidePoint may come from potential CFTC registrants, current CFTC registrants, or other businesses that may impact CFTC-regulated markets or market participants. Like LabCFTC, GuidePoint is technology neutral. Our mission is to engage with innovators with good ideas. In our view, all responsible innovators should have an equal opportunity to demonstrate their value, gain acceptance, and make our markets better. GuidePoint is also entity neutral. We recognize that the next big idea may originate with an established market participant or with a new start up. To that end, we endeavor to provide entities with an understanding of CFTC regulated markets, rules, and processes equivalent to that of a well-informed market participant.

GuidePoint is intended to serve the needs of those meeting the following criteria:

  • A business entity or other organization engaged with fintech or RegTech.
    • U.S.-based companies and business entities.
    • Foreign-country based companies looking to do business in the United States.
    • Trade groups and other organizations engaged with fintech or RegTech businesses.
    • Representatives of any of the above.
  • And your innovation:
    • involves new or innovative technology or new or innovative application of technology to CFTC markets or market participants, or
    • is (or would be) subject to CFTC regulation or supervision, or it is targeted to impact activities, conduct, entities, markets, or infrastructure that the CFTC oversees. GuidePoint focuses on innovations and applied technologies that have a clear nexus to CFTC-regulated markets and participants.

What types of inquiries may be directed to GuidePoint?

We welcome your inquiries. We are especially interested to hear from entities that are developing products, services, processes, or other innovations that have the potential to be transformative. By way of example only, representative technologies may include:

  • Algorithmic Trading
  • Blockchain and distributed ledger
  • Cloud Computing
  • Data Management and Analysis
  • Identity
  • Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence
  • Money and Asset Transfer
  • Network Cartography and Analysis
  • Programmable Hardware

Note that this list is non-exclusive and is in no way meant to prioritize or exclude any particular technology.

GuidePoint accepts a wide range of inquiries ranging from specific registration or compliance requirements to broader questions about the CFTC’s regulatory framework – e.g., how it may accommodate new systems, business models, or services made possible through responsible fintech innovation. Within the CFTC, inquiries may be referred to the appropriate groups and subject matter experts with the aim to ensure that any response is both accurate and tailored to the entity’s circumstances.

The potential implementation of a technology innovation may present a situation that merits consideration of tailored, proportionate relief from the agency or staff. In those cases, or where an entity may otherwise desire consideration of a legal interpretation or regulatory relief, GuidePoint will refer innovators to the relevant Commission regulations and Division personnel in order to request, e.g., exemptive, no-action, and interpretive letters and assist the entity to understand the request process and to contact the appropriate CFTC staff.

The review of and decision on any such requests will be made by appropriate CFTC Division staff according to established policies and procedures such as those set forth in Commission regulation 140.99. Please note that, while GuidePoint facilitates access to these mechanisms, it does not offer an alternative process of review. Likewise, GuidePoint can also direct innovators to resources that may be helpful to identify issues, which could merit consideration by the Commission of a petition for issuance, amendment, or repeal of a rule pursuant to Commission regulation 13.2.

Is there a cost to use GuidePoint?

No. There is no fee to use GuidePoint.

How will CFTC respond to GuidePoint inquiries?

GuidePoint will respond to inquiries in its sole discretion, subject to their complexity, the availability of agency resources, and the need to fulfill other agency responsibilities.

When can I expect a response to my inquiry?

Efforts will be made to respond to inquiries in a timely fashion. GuidePoint can make no guarantee that it will be able to respond to every inquiry received.

How can I use the responses I receive from GuidePoint?

GuidePoint does not offer legal advice. Any feedback offered through GuidePoint is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Neither the use of GuidePoint nor any feedback you receive will reduce or eliminate your obligation to comply with existing CFTC regulatory requirements.

What effect does the advice have on the CFTC?

GuidePoint feedback shall be non-binding on the CFTC or any of its offices or divisions. The Commission (or offices or divisions) is not required to follow or accept legal conclusions derived from information provided through GuidePoint.

How will we handle your information?

Information and records provided to the CFTC through GuidePoint are agency records. The information is handled according CFTC’s records policies and record disposition schedules, which can be found in the Records Dispositions Schedules.

GuidePoint will not disclose your information except as permitted or required by law or as you agree in writing. Information provided to CFTC’s GuidePoint will generally be used in connection with responding to an entity’s inquiry or for CFTC staff of the Commission to perform their duties. The CFTC is subject to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. 552, which contains limited exemptions for personally identifiable information, trade secrets, and confidential commercial information from disclosure. We will assert those exemptions to protect your information wherever appropriate. When providing confidential information to GuidePoint, you are entitled to request confidential treatment and mark documents as confidential on each page. The process to do so is described in How to File a Petition for Confidential Treatment.

The information you provide may include personally identifiable information. This information is contained in a Privacy Act covered system of records, and the CFTC will handle the personal information in accordance with the applicable system of records notice.

The CFTC works to ensure transparency about its policies and practices related to the handling of personally identifiable information (PII).

Innovators may wish to consider providing particularly sensitive or confidential information at a later stage of their interaction with GuidePoint, once its need is established, rather than at the time of their initial submission.

How do I contact GuidePoint?

Initiating an inquiry is easy. Simply click the “Contact LabCFTC” link at the right or email your inquiry to [email protected].