Elizabeth McLaughlin, Editor
Header Image: The Washington Times
On Wednesday, March 23, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell discussed the need for consumer protection when it comes to digital currencies. The Bank for International Settlements, an organization that includes central bankers from around the world, organized the panel at which Powell spoke. There are two kinds of new technologies that Powell is concerned with: stablecoins and central bank digital currencies.
The former are a kind of cryptocurrency tied to a commodity or the dollar; the latter are government-issued digital forms of currencies, like the U.S. dollar. Back in Jan., the Fed released a study on stablecoins that identifies the form of currency as “a possible breakthrough innovation in the future of payments.” The Fed understands that stablecoins have the potential to significantly impact the banking system, both on traditional banking and credit provision. As for digital currencies, the Fed is researching the topic but has not decided whether to issue their own.
Although Powell did not provide much detail as to the content of these regulations, he did say that these digital transactions should be regulated the same as other transactions executed by banks. Powell is particularly concerned with the perceived lack of consumer awareness of the risk associated with cryptocurrency: many popular investments lack government protection of losses. The rate of adult Americans who invest in cryptocurrency is 16 percent and it seems that the hype is only growing, meaning that more Americans are going to be exposed to unregulated risk by investing in crypto in the coming years. That is, however, unless the government develops more robust laws and regulations concerning digital currencies.
Besides personal loss and privacy concerns, Powell discussed how cryptocurrency assets have been used for “illicit activity,” such as money laundering. On top of that, Sen. Elizabeth Warren has expressed concern regarding crypto use and evading sanctions on Russia.