U.S. Takes Step to Regulate Cryptocurrency Market
Cryptocurrency home sales barely have a toehold, and a new exec order from Pres. Biden may change the rules. The order suggests regulation and a U.S.-owned version.
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order that appears to be a first step to regulating the use of cryptocurrency, a form of unregulated virtual money that includes Bitcoin.
The size of the growing cryptocurrency market likely played a role in the timing of the announcement, complicated by concerns that any attempted economic lockdown to punish Russia for invading Ukraine could be weakened by the use of cryptocurrency.
The Executive Order starts by summarizing the quickly growing use of cryptocurrency, saying it’s seen “explosive growth” over the past few years – a $3 trillion market cap in November 2021, up from just $14 billion five years earlier. The White House says about 16% of adult Americans – 40 million people – have invested in, traded or used cryptocurrencies.
Over 100 countries are exploring or piloting Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) – a digital form of a country’s sovereign currency.
“The rise in digital assets creates an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier, but also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security and climate risk,” according to the Executive Order.
The Order lays out a national policy for digital assets across six key priorities: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; illicit finance; U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness; financial inclusion; and responsible innovation.
Executive Order key points
- It directs the Department of the Treasury and other partners to assess and develop policy recommendations that address the digital asset sector and the changes in financial markets for consumers, investors, businesses and equitable economic growth. It encourages regulators to ensure sufficient oversight and safeguard against systemic financial risks.
- It encourages the Financial Stability Oversight Council to identify and mitigate economy-wide financial risks posed by digital assets, and to develop policy recommendations to address regulatory gaps.
- It directs “all relevant U.S. government agencies” to mitigate risks. It also directs agencies to work with U.S. allies and partners to ensure each one is “aligned and responsive to risks.”
- It directs the Department of Commerce to create a framework to drive U.S. competitiveness and leadership in digital asset technology – a framework that should act as an operational approach agencies can use going forward.
- It calls for oversight to make sure the use of digital currencies is safe, affordable and accessible to everyone, with a consideration of any disparate impact risk. The Secretary of the Treasury is tasked with creating a report on the future of money and payment systems.
- It says the government should take concrete steps to study and support the responsible development, design and implementation of digital asset systems – and prioritize privacy, security, the prevention of illicit exploitation or any negative climate impact.
- It wants the U.S. to “explore” the creation of a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). It encourages fast research and development for a potential United States CBDC, should “issuance be deemed in the national interest.” It also encourages the Federal Reserve to continue its research, development and assessment efforts for a U.S. CBDC, including development of a plan for broader U.S. Government action in support of their work.
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