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.

Fintech

Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

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Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

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FTA
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.
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Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

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We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

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Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

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