Crypto scrutiny is just the start, White House official says

The Biden administration is only beginning to ramp up regulatory scrutiny around cryptocurrencies, according to a senior White House official.

Peter Harrell, senior director for international economics and competitiveness with the National Security Council, said the administration would move to address a range of risks around the emerging sector while seeking to position the US as a leader in digital asset innovation.

“You’re really seeing the administration at the beginning of what we expect will be an ongoing, quite aggressive effort to make sure we understand and address the whole range of risks that we see in the cryptocurrency space,” Harrell said at the Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance Forum on 12 October.

The Biden administration is taking steps to regulate so-called stablecoins — a form of digital currency backed by safe assets such as Treasurys — which regulators worry could be vulnerable to the equivalent of a bank run if large numbers of investors suddenly rush to redeem them.

READ Here’s why the SEC could take aim at stablecoins

US Securities and Exchange Commission chair Gary Gensler, meanwhile, has taken aim at private forms of money in speeches, saying he doesn’t see “much long-term viability” in them and promising greater regulatory oversight from his agency.

Harrell’s remarks on Tuesday appeared to take a tough line on cryptocurrencies despite some concerns an overly aggressive regulatory regime could move the virtual currency markets overseas and cause the US to lose out on critical intelligence and financial leverage.

READ BoE’s Bailey ‘sceptical’ big tech could be regulated like banks in digital currency race

“We do think that the cryptocurrency industry has some potential benefits,” Harrell said, naming financial inclusion as one example. “But there are clearly a whole range of risks.”

“I think you’re really seeing the administration kind of moving out on a number of different lines of work to make sure that we have a smart and effective regulatory system in place for cryptocurrency,” he added.

Write to Dylan Tokar at [email protected]

This article appeared on Dow Jones Newswires

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