Joe Biden has signed his 82nd executive order since being sworn into office in January 2021, directly addressing a regulatory framework for digital assets in a rare moment for the U.S. president.
In a Wednesday announcement, the White House said President Biden’s executive order required government agencies to explore the potential rollout of a United States central bank digital currency as well as coordinate and consolidate policy on a national framework for crypto. Many media outlets previously reported the U.S. president had initially planned to sign the executive order in February, an event that was likely postponed following Russia’s military actions in Ukraine.
The reaction from many industry leaders compared the executive order to a regulatory opportunity — Biden had rarely spoken directly about crypto and blockchain during his presidency. Reports suggested that the situation with Russia potentially using digital currency to evade U.S. sanctions may have contributed to the U.S. president not waiting longer. The executive order mentioned the risks of circumventing sanctions three times, a sentiment echoed by National Economic Council director Brian Deese and National Security advisor Jake Sullivan:
“The approach outlined in the E.O. will reinforce U.S. leadership in the global financial system and safeguard the long-term efficacy of critical national security tools like sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering frameworks.”
Lawmakers and regulators were quick to chime in on the executive order. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who may have prematurely released her statement on the matter, said the executive order could “result in substantial benefits for the nation, consumers, and businesses” in supporting innovation while addressing industry risk. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who has often associated cryptocurrencies with illicit acts, said Biden was “right to spotlight crypto’s risks,” adding that the U.S. government needed “strong rules before it’s too late.”
“While I agree with the President’s desire to combat money laundering and defend America’s national security, I think his executive order misses the fact that the overwhelming majority of digital asset users are law-abiding and trying to make our financial system better,” said Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis, a Bitcoin (BTC) HODLer who has taken a pro-crypto stance on many pieces of legislation. “We need thoughtful rules around stablecoins, and though I remain unconvinced on the need for a central bank digital currency, I will continue to follow the Federal Reserve’s work in this area closely.”
Related: Crypto could bypass President Biden’s ‘devastating’ sanctions on Russian banks and elites: Report
The Crypto Council for Innovation, a coalition of crypto firms originally formed in April 2021 that includes major exchanges including Coinbase and Gemini, described the executive order as having a “holistic and informed” approach to cryptocurrencies. The group added it would likely lead to regulatory clarity, responsible financial innovation and a more inclusive economy.
“We look forward to working in partnership with regulators and policymakers in the coming months to develop smart policies that bolster America’s position as a global leader of crypto innovation,” said the CCI. “Collaboration is crucial.”
President Biden has signed the EO recognizing the tremendous potential of crypto. It reflects the importance of crypto to the American people. We share the President’s commitment to responsible financial innovation and a more fair, inclusive economy. Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/GUINxBeBQG
— Crypto Council for Innovation (@crypto_council) March 9, 2022
Jeremy Allaire, co-founder and CEO of crypto payments firm Circle, added:
“For those of us in the crypto community, IMHO this E.O. should be viewed as the single biggest opportunity to engage with policy makers on the issues that matters. The proverbial doors of policymakers are WIDE OPEN, this is now a NATIONAL conversation in the U.S.”