The United States has been at the forefront of Technology innovation over the last century. Given that the participation of United States businesses and citizens in the digital asset market is high, it becomes imperative for a robust regulatory framework. White House reports suggest that 16% of Americans have purchased digital assets. The White House is also seeing Digital Assets help America reinforce its dominance in the Global financial markets.
Since March 9th, when President Biden released an Executive order on responsible digital asset development, several changes have taken place. The US Government in tandem with several agencies has addressed key issues in a report released on 16th September 2022. These frameworks and policy recommendations address six broad areas.
- Consumer and Investor protection
- Financial Inclusion
- Ensuring Financial Stability
- Responsible Innovation
- Countering illicit finance
- US leadership in global markets
Consumer and Investor Protection
Since November 2021, the Crypto market capitalization has dropped by roughly one-third. Crypto markets are more volatile than equity or real estate markets. Moreover, non-compliance with laws is also observed to be rampant. The report states that roughly one-fourth of the Initial Coin Offerings have transparency issues. To fight these issues the administration has decided to
- Encourage regulators like the SEC and CFTC to aggressively pursue investigations against unlawful activities
- The report encourages the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to double its efforts in fighting unlawful, abusive and deceptive practices.
- The report calls for more guidance to address the risks investors might face. Legal and regulatory authorities are urged to collaborate with the other stakeholders to resolve issues
- The Financial Literacy Education Commission (FLEC) will lead the efforts to ensure public awareness. This awareness should help users understand the risk-reward dynamics of investments in the digital asset space
Promoting Safe and Affordable Financial Services
There are still 7 million Americans who do not have a bank account. More than 20 million rely on expensive non-bank financial services for day-to-day activities. For those who are not within the formal banking economy, basic services are more expensive than they should be. These expenses increase further when there is a need for cross-border payments. To fight these issues the Federal Bank aims to launch Fed now, an instantaneous nationwide payments system along with Clearing house’s real-time payment system.
To encourage safety and affordability in financial transactions
- The president will consider the recommendations of stakeholders to regulate non-bank financial services
- Govt institutions will encourage the use of instant payments and support the growth of technologies provided by service providers
- Cross-border payments are also focused on. Efforts to improve Cross-border payment regulations, practices and monitoring protocols will increase
- The National Science Foundation ( NSF) will back socio-economic research to ensure Digital asset ecosystems are designed to be equitable, usable, inclusive and accessible to all
The fall of Terra luna and the largescale insolvency after the incident wiped out $600 billion of investor wealth. Keeping this in mind the Biden-Harris administration has identified the need to address stability concerns in the Digital Asset space.
- The united states treasury is said to work in tandem with Financial Institutions to improve their capacity to fight loopholes in the Cyber Security space
- The US treasury is said to work with other stakeholders to track and study the risks associated with the Digital Asset market. The treasury is going to collaborate with the OECD and the Financial Stability Board to further this cause.
To foster responsible innovation the US Government plans to take a few steps
- The Office of Science and Technology Policy will develop a new agenda to encourage research in the areas of Cryptography, Cyber security, and Privacy. The focus is not just on research but also on education
- Provide regulatory guidelines to firms working in this area
- Organizations like the Dept of Energy and Environment Protection agency are going to study the ecological impact of Digital Assets
- The Department of Commerce of the US Government is considering agreeing to a standing forum which can be a place for various stakeholders to discuss ideas
Fighting Illegal Finance
Since decentralization and Cryptographic means remove financial intermediaries, there is a need to monitor the use of digital assets
- The president of the United States is considering calling upon congress to amend the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) against unlicensed money transfers of Digital Assets. Digital Asset exchanges and NFT platforms to come under the review of this amendment
- Continued monitoring of the Digital Asset sector and the risks associated with Digital Assets to fund illegal elements
- Law enforcement agencies will continue to expose illegal actors
- Having conversations with private sector players to ensure they understand the possible threats illegal activities may pose
US leadership in Global Markets
The US government which takes the leadership role in shaping the world economy is actively consulting and framing regulations for the Digital Asset sector. It also aims to partner with other countries to ensure that regulations of other countries take into consideration aspects like Data Privacy, Human rights and Financial Stability. The US aims to do this by
- Leveraging its position in international forums and coalitions. For example, OCED, G-20, FSB etc.
- The Department of Justice and other US agencies will collaborate with foreign counterparts
- State departments to help other nations with Technical know-how on Legal and regulatory fronts
- Helping American companies expand on a global scale
The US government is also extensively researching and considering the possibility of launching its own Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). The Administration has also worked on policy objectives for the CBDC.
The frameworks laid out by the United Government clearly show a positive outlook of the Govt to help the Digital Asset industry grow. Working through a participatory and consultative approach is the best way to ensure that the Industry grows harmoniously. The approach followed by the United States lays a path for other countries to follow.