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White House reportedly preparing executive order on crypto



Joe Biden’s White House is expected to issue an executive order in the coming weeks about actions the U.S. government will take regarding digital assets.

A source “familiar with the White House’s plan” told Barron’s that the executive order would be issued in a national security memorandum. Biden’s memorandum would assign some government entities to study crypto, stablecoins, and nonfungible tokens (NFT) with the goal of developing a workable regulatory framework.

The source was quoted as saying:

“This is designed to look holistically at digital assets and develop a set of policies that give coherency to what the government is trying to do in this space.”

Rumors of a potential executive order on crypto have been swirling in recent days. Earlier this week Forbes reported those government entities would likely issue reports on their findings by mid-2022  looking at “the systemic risks of cryptocurrencies and their illicit uses.”

The rationale for the executive order falling under national security is that crypto is a cross border tool for shifting money. The ability of decentralized blockchain technology to circumvent geo-specific surveillance or rules means the administration may push for synchronized international regulations with other countries.

Senior ETF analyst at Bloomberg Eric Balchunas noted earlier today that the Biden Administration viewing crypto as a national security threat may also be behind the constant rejections of Bitcoin (BTC) spot ETFs.

He also referred to the new developments as a “broader crypto crackdown” in a Jan. 28 tweet.

Broader crackdown

Another piece of legislation worrying the crypto industry was proposed by House Democrats on Jan. 25, the America COMPETES Act. Jerry Brito, the Executive Director for Washington D.C.-based think tank Coin Center, noted that one provision in the proposed bill would allow the Treasury Secretary to ban crypto exchanges from operating without any prior notice.

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Brito said that he believes the bill is likely to pass “in some form.”

Related: President Biden taps economists for Fed governors’ seats, Sarah Bloom Raskin as vice chair for supervision

Meanwhile supporters among lawmakers are trying to smooth off the rougher edges of already passed legislation. Echoing pleas from crypto industry experts, a bipartisan group of House Representatives has asked Biden-nominated Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to clarify aspects of the Infrastructure Bill that pertain to digital assets. The Infrastructure Bill was signed into law last November amid some controversy as its definition of a ‘broker’ is arguably too broad by including miners, software developers, transaction validators and node operators.

The group of bipartisan lawmakers proposed on Jan. 26 to narrow the scope of what information a broker can obtain to prevent creating an “un-level playing field for transactions in digital assets and those required to provide them.” Some brokers, as they are currently defined in the bill, do not have the ability to verify information about senders and receivers of crypto as required by law. Yellen has yet to respond to this request.