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In a bill, introduced last week, U.S. House representative Don Beyer introduced what could be the most comprehensive legislation so far in the cryptocurrency market.
With the 58-page counting “Digital Asset Market Structure and Investor Protection Act,” Beyer, who had so far shown not much interest in cryptocurrency, had his coming out. With the proposal he is looking for an exhaustive regulatory regime for digital assets. It touches the definition of securities and commodities in relation to crypto, and guidelines with regards to stablecoins, decentralized finance (DeFi) and tax data collection.
It is yet unclear what support the bill has, or what any outlook or timeline for its passage might be. Nonetheless, the depth and detail laid out in the 58-pager has raised attention of the crypto space.
Considering lacking regulation and clarity, the bill seems to address a long-standing desire to change the status quo and put things in motion. Where previous bills have attempted to address these issues in isolation, Beyer’s work, covers all prevalent issues in one go. Furthermore, the bill appears to have been thoroughly researched.
As proposed in Beyer’s bill, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) would need to step up and be clear in their definitions of what crypto markets fall under their respective jurisdictions.
An important passage is a provision on “desecuritization.” Here is described how a token that is treated as a digital asset security will become a cryptocurrency that will not be treated as a security. This is something that SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce has been advocating for a long time now.
The recommendations for the SEC come amidst its case against Ripple Labs. The SEC have sued Ripple in December of 2020 over illegally trading in unregistered securities in December of last year. According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, XRP is a security.
The section that is likely the most controversial one and can face a lot of scrutiny is the one that covers out how the U.S. should treat at stablecoins, digital assets that act as substitutes for dollars or other government-issued money.
It is suggested that the Treasury Department would have ultimate oversight and veto power over the creation and usage of all stablecoins in the U.S. under its terms. The bill reads:
“Beginning on the date of the enactment of this section, no person may issue, use, or permit to be used a digital asset fiat-based stablecoin that is not approved by the Secretary of the Treasury under subsection.”
Beyer’s bill also includes the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) who are requested to draft regulations around anonymity-enhancing services for crypto. It is said that:
“The purpose of the rule … shall be to ensure that anonymizing services, money mule and anonymity-enhanced convertible virtual currencies are not used to prevent association of an individual customer with the movement of a digital asset, digital asset security or virtual currency of which the customer is the direct or beneficial owner.”
The bill does not explicitly provide definitions and regulations for crypto products and services like DeFi, custody, wash trading, trading platforms or ransomware. However, it does opt various federal agencies to evaluate what regulation may look like and publish their views.
Aiming for a complete framework on the new financial reality of digital currencies and assets, the bill would effectively authorize the Federal Reserve, the U.S.’s central bank, to create a central bank digital currency (CBDC).
Lawmakers in the U.S. are getting slightly nervous the recent months and have started to focus their attention on the space of digital assets and cryptocurrencies. There is an ongoing discussion on the industry with topics as consumer protection or the risks products and services in the space can pose to financial stability.
Last month Congress had already formed a new working group tasked with cryptocurrency and fintech policy. It is tasked with “legislation and policy solutions on such matters as cryptocurrency regulation, the use of blockchain and distributed ledger technology, and the possible development of a U.S. Central Bank Digital Currency.”
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Author: Peter Siu