TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new executive order from President Joe Biden encourages the U.S. Federal Reserve to start weighing how, and how much, it has a hand in cryptocurrency. The order focuses on several areas, such as protecting consumers, evolving U.S. banks to meet future needs and adjust to risks of digital currency, and make the national economy more competitive.
Cryptocurrency is a digital form of money. It can be converted from dollars and dimes to Bitcoin and Dogecoin, and all of the options between.
The order calls on federal agencies to take on a more cohesive, united strategy for the regulation and oversight of digital assets like cryptocurrency, nonfungible tokens and other blockchain and technological financial tools and tokens.
Biden’s new executive order breaks down America’s need to step forward, in terms of investment and finances, into how the economy is developing, and to meet consumers where and how they’re spending their money. It even asks the Federal Reserve and U.S. regulators to explore how America might use its own digital currency, and how it could digitize the dollar.
What the order does, in sections
The new executive order addresses a need to understand digital currency and how it affects market growth, as well as how that may change things for consumers, investors, businesses and digital privacy and security.
To do this, the order makes a few changes to policy and directives, while focusing on human rights, national security, crime and prevention of risk.
First, the order addresses a financial elephant in the room, what it calls “combined market capitalization.” Over five years, from November 2016 to November 2021, the digital market has grown from $14 billion to $3 trillion of “non-state issued digital assets.” The order said that shift has big implications for America’s economy.
In that respect, two of the president’s advisors, National Economic Council director Brian Deese and National Security advisor Jake Sullivan, said the executive order will establish the country’s first strategy to handle digital assets on a so far untouched scale, as well as put the U.S. in a leading role for innovation, domestically and globally.
Cryptocurrency isn’t going away, so Biden’s latest order instead says it will address interests in financial innovation and expand access to safe and affordable financial services, as well as reduce costs for domestic and cross-border transfers and payments. However, the order also says the U.S. “must take strong steps to reduce the risks” that are posed by digital assets.
Second, the new executive order creates a set of policy goals to combat what it calls failures in the market.
To protect “consumers, investors and businesses” in the U.S., and the U.S. and global financial stability, the order said there should be safeguards in place against surveillance, human rights abuses and privacy failures.
Additionally, the order said “digital asset issuers, exchanges and trading platforms, and intermediaries whose activities may increase risks to financial stability, should” have compliance and regulatory oversight and supervision.
“Illicit finance and national security risks” created by digital assets being misused must also be addressed, such as money laundering, cybercrime and ransomware, narcotics and human trafficking, and terrorism and proliferation financing” must be fought. To that end, “all U.S. government agencies” will coordinate to “mitigate” those risks, and work with U.S. allies to respond to them.
In addition to security, nationally and globally, the U.S. will focus on innovation. “While many activities involving digital assets are within the scope of existing domestic laws and regulations, an area where the United States has been a global leader, growing development and adoption of digital assets and related innovations,” according to the executive order. Developing payment and digital assets to further adjust to meet U.S. needs and interests will remain at the top of the country’s standards, but must maintain U.S. focus on democratic values, among other needs, including rule of law, privacy, and national security.
The U.S. Central Bank is also ordered to explore creating a central bank digital currency, or digital dollar for the U.S., to make the national “sovereign money” stay at the core of the financial system.
As a result, “within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of National Intelligence, and the heads of other relevant agencies, shall submit to the President a report on the future of money and payment systems, including the conditions that drive broad adoption of digital assets.”
Before the year is out, the Secretary of the Treasure is also ordered to create a report, along with the Financial Stability Oversight Council, to see what risks and regulatory gaps are made by adopting digital currency and assets for the U.S.
To “limit illicit finance,” digital assets will have to be analyzed for an impact on how they can be used to avoid oversight, and the U.S. government will work toward understanding the “use of digital assets, the extent to which technological innovation may impact such activities, and exploration of opportunities to mitigate these risks through regulation, supervision, public‑private engagement, oversight, and law enforcement.”