White House Crypto Statement
In their early years, groundbreaking new technologies sometimes get to operate in gray areas of legality. This has certainly been the case for cryptocurrency, but in more and more regions, regulations are starting to catch up with it.
In March 2022, President Biden issued an executive order calling for various agencies and stakeholders to work on the development of safe and stable digital asset technologies. More recently, a comprehensive report of recommendations based on their findings was released. What’s contained in the new regulatory framework for cryptocurrency put out by the White House?
- What was the Original Cryptocurrency Executive Order?
- What is the New White House Cryptocurrency Framework?
- What Does the White House Cryptocurrency Framework Mean for E-Commerce Payments?
The cryptocurrency market may be a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but many analysts project that it will continue to grow by a CAGR of as much as 29% over the next few years.
Some of the things that hamper cryptocurrency’s viability as a mainstream payment method—such as the volatility of its price and the environmental impact of mining it—are being addressed.
However, it remains risky for any business to invest too much into cryptocurrency acceptance when local regulations could quickly change the entire landscape.
Cryptocurrency regulation is inevitable, so the sooner clear guidelines and frameworks can be published, the easier it will be for banks, merchants, payment processors, and other companies to incorporate cryptocurrencies into their long-term planning. The framework just released by the White House provides some of the earliest clear direction into how US crypto policy is likely to shape up in the coming years.
What was the Original Cryptocurrency Executive Order?
Before getting into the details of the framework released in September, let’s back up and take a look at the executive order that preceded it.
Back in March, President Biden signed an executive order intended to ensure the “responsible development of digital assets,” for the purpose of protecting US consumers and maintaining US technological leadership. To achieve this objective, the executive order calls for policy recommendations that prioritize the following areas of concern:
- Protect consumers, investors, and businesses from systemic risk
- Protect global financial stability by mitigating systemic risks
- Mitigate the financial and security risks of illicit digital assets
- Promote the technological and economic leadership of the US within the global financial system
- Promote equitable access to safe, affordable financial services
- Support the development of responsible digital asset technology
- Explore the possibilities of a US Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
In all of these areas, the executive order instructs the relevant federal government agencies to work alongside industry partners, international allies, and other stakeholders in order to generate the best possible recommendations.
What is the New White House Cryptocurrency Framework?
The agencies tasked with carrying out the requirements of the March executive order have completed their risk assessments and submitted their recommendations. In September, the White House released a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency that addresses the priority concerns.
With respect to cybersecurity and the use of cryptocurrency in illicit markets, the framework raises the possibility of asking Congress to amend federal statues related to financial crimes (such as the Bank Secrecy Act) to add language and penalties related to digital assets.
In addition to providing recommendations to mitigate risk, the agencies that assessed these issues highlighted some of the most common illicit activities associated with cryptocurrency: money laundering, financing terrorist or criminal enterprises, and ransomware. Per their recommendations, the framework also calls on the US Treasury to complete various additional risk assessments, including one on NFTs to be completed by July 2023.
Here are a few of the other important guidelines:
- The Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and other watchdog agencies will be investigating deceptive practices in cryptocurrency markets and working to educate the public about the risks inherent to digital assets.
- Federal agencies are encouraged to adopt instant electronic payment systems and develop regulations for their use.
- The US Treasury will be investigating security and stability issues related to cryptocurrency markets.
- Various federal agencies will support the development of secure, energy-efficient digital asset technologies.
- Internationally, the State Department and other agencies will promote US values with respect to cryptocurrency and other digital asset technologies, assist other countries in developing their digital infrastructure, and support US fintech companies seeking to establish themselves in the global marketplace.
The framework also addresses the call to explore the possibility of creating a US CBDC. This would be a digital currency backed by the US government and tied to a stable value. This would offer a number of the advantages of cryptocurrency, such as the ability to freely transfer digital funds across disparate platforms, without the volatility and other downsides. The White House has come up with policy objectives for a US CBDC system and is working with the Federal Reserve to research and develop the concept further.
What Does the White House Cryptocurrency Framework Mean for E-Commerce Payments?
The executive order, and the regulatory framework it led to, have provided federal agencies with some clear guidelines to follow when dealing with issues related to cryptocurrency, NFTs, and related digital assets.
Future legislative action may provide more detailed regulations, but for now, this framework sets the standard that you should expect any crypto payment processor or merchant services provider to uphold.
For the most part, merchants who are engaged in legal activities and honest reporting have little to fear from crypto regulations. Instead, you can look forward to additional regulations making the market more accessible and improving the quality of crypto-related solutions you have at your disposal.
Decentralized, peer-to-peer payments that don’t have to go through a bank or middleman can sound appealing to merchants who’ve been burned by costly processing fees and unfair dispute rules, but negotiating payments in the lawless frontier of cryptocurrency can be a risky endeavor.
The Biden Administration’s executive order and subsequent statement on cryptocurrency is an important first step toward establishing regulations for digital asset markets in the US.
With stablecoins and CBDCs making cryptocurrency viable for everyday e-commerce transactions and the Metaverse establishing important use cases for NFTs, crypto is going to be a major concern in the payments industry for the foreseeable future.