Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a briefing to discuss regulatory issues associated with cryptocurrency. Mnuchin stressed the importance of rooting out bad actors in virtual assets.
Key points of the conference
- The US government views cryptocurrency as a national security issue. The government will not allow digital assets service providers to operate in the shadows and will not tolerate the use of the cryptocurrencies in support of illicit activities. Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin had been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cyber-crime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking.
- US Department of Treasury has recently established the Financial Stability Oversight council’s working group on digital assets. This group enables U.S. financial regulators such as FinCEN, the Fed, OCC, CFPB, S.E.C. and other key stakeholders to work together to combat risks posed by cryptocurrencies.
- Before digital asset service providers have access to the US financial system, they shall be subject to the same regulatory environment as banks. Money transmitters of cryptocurrency must comply with the relevant Bank Secrecy Act obligations known as BSA and register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network known as FinCEN.
- The US government is concerned about the speculative nature of Bitcoin and will make sure that the U.S. financial system is protected from fraud. There shall be proper disclosures of information and the general public and investors need to understand what they are investing in.
- Given the international nature of cryptocurrencies, countries shall regulate and supervise virtual asset service providers according to FATF global standards.
While the US government holding any virtual asset service providers to its highest standards validates cryptocurrency, Mnuchin’s briefing hints the government’s goal is to protect US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network): a financial crime network under the U.S. Treasury Department that clamps down on financial crimes in and out of the U.S. including money laundering and terrorist funding.
Bank Secrecy Act: the anti-money laundering act of the United States, which includes KYC and AML obligations, with the USA Patriot Act.
The Federal Reserve System: Central banking system of the United States.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC): a bureau within the US Department of the Treasury that serves to regulate, and supervise all national banks and thrift institutions and the federally licensed branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: an agency of the US government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector.
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): an independent agency of the United States federal government regulating the securities industry.
Video clip on U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin’s Conference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aDmhT9UZPIk