Fintech

Biden is unveiling his crypto game plan

With the crypto industry complaining about "patchwork" regulation, the White House is showing it takes digital assets seriously.

Treasury Department

The Treasury Department will study cryptocurrencies under a new White House executive order.

Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images

President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on cryptocurrencies Wednesday that lays out his administration’s game plan for a fast-moving and controversial technology, officials said.

The order is described as a “first-ever, whole-of-government” approach to digital assets as they are rapidly upending the global financial system and, with the war in Ukraine, have become an important foreign policy concern.

Biden is not expected to unveil any specific proposals, based on a briefing by senior administration officials. But the order will direct the executive branch to pursue a range of initiatives in areas which have already received considerable attention from federal agencies and Congress.

  • The order will direct the Treasury Department and the Financial Stability Oversight Council, which includes key agencies like the SEC and CFPB, to study the impact of crypto on markets and major financial institutions amid worries that the rise of digital assets could destabilize the financial system.
  • The order urges the Commerce Department to come up with a framework to help ensure U.S. leadership in digital asset innovation. It also endorses the ongoing effort of the Federal Reserve to explore the introduction of an official U.S. central bank digital currency or digital dollar. The Atlantic Council has found that the U.S. is “furthest behind” among major economies in its efforts to develop a CBDC.
  • Biden will also focus the government on the fight against the use of crypto in criminal and illicit activity. The effort addresses concerns that associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin will use it to bypass sanctions, although FinCEN recently said that using crypto for large-scale sanctions evasion was not practical.

The executive order was the result of a series of discussions with experts within the U.S. government and other stakeholders, including sessions that the officials called Crypto Sundays, the officials said.

Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, a major crypto lobbying organization, called the executive order “a major milestone for the crypto industry,” which has had to deal with “a patchwork of rules from multiple agencies, with guidelines that are sometimes vague or contradictory.”

With the order’s directive to study digital assets in depth, “the U.S. has the opportunity to set clear and consistent rules of the road that nurture crypto innovation while protecting consumers,” she told Protocol.

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