President Biden Signs Cryptocurrency Executive Order Establishing Whole-of-Government Approach to Regulating Digital Assets Industry

On March 9, President Joe Biden signed an executive order that formalizes initial steps for regulation of the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry.

Ending months of anticipation and speculation of how the current administration would respond to the economy’s biggest growth sector, the executive order tasks various government agencies and departments with answering questions about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, including their risks and benefits. 

The order has generally received neutral to positive feedback. Detractors have responded that a comprehensive government approach will stifle innovation, and that the order labels cryptocurrency a risk to human rights, climate change and crime.  Industry insiders view the order as formal recognition of the legitimacy of the industry, which has experienced such drastic growth and consumer demand that the administration feels compelled to regulate it. Others view the order as mostly symbolic and merely setting the stage for future regulation and coordination by government.

So, what does the order actually say? According to administration officials, the order lays out a national policy for digital assess across six key priorities:

  • Consumer and investor protection
  • Financial stability
  • Illicit finance
  • U.S. leadership in the global financial system and economic competitiveness
  • Financial inclusion; and
  • Responsible innovation.

In other words, the order calls for analysis of various issues and the impacts that the cryptocurrency industry could have on consumer, business, and government interests. The order is silent on what regulations the administration wants government departments and agencies to develop.  Instead, the order establishes timelines for submitting reports, ranging from 90 days to 210 days. 

While only time will tell how the administration proceeds, the order symbolizes the role the United States intends to assume in this growth industry. Per a White House fact sheet regarding the order:

“The rise in digital assets creates an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier, but also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security, and climate risk. The United States must maintain technological leadership in this rapidly growing space, supporting innovation while mitigating the risks for consumers, businesses, the broader financial system, and the climate. And, it must play a leading role in international engagement and global governance of digital assets consistent with democratic values and U.S. global competitiveness.”

Plunkett Cooney continues to monitor these developments and the impact of state and federal regulation on client interests. If you have any questions, please contact us to see how our full-service firm can help your business navigate these changing winds. 

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