Treasury Sec. Mnuchin: We Are “Very Focused” on Cryptocurrencies
Attending an event organized by the Economic Club of Washington, United States Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin noted his department is taking a close look at cryptocurrencies. With South Korea’s regulatory ambiguity reaching a fever pitch, U.S. crypto traders wonder what’s next at home.
Bitcoin Wallets, Meet KYC?
In new comments from a January 12th talk at an Economic Club event in Washington D.C., Treasury Secretary Mnuchin — the top financial policymaker adviser to President Donald Trump — said the Treasury Department is scrutinizing cryptocurrencies like never before.
And, further yet, Mnuchin wasn’t as accommodating as his peers in the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) have been as of late toward cryptocurrencies.
The Treasury Sec. even went as far as to say that bitcoin wallet providers are running afoul of Know Your Customer (KYC) laws in the United States:
“We are very focused on cyber currencies, whether you call them cryptocurrencies, cyber currencies. We want to make sure that bad people cannot use these currencies to do bad things.
So, in the United States, and people may not realize this, under our laws if you have a wallet to own bitcoins, that company has the same obligation as a bank to ‘Know Your Customer.’
[…] One of the things we will be working very closely with the G20 [summit nations] on is making sure that this doesn’t become the Swiss numbered bank accounts.”
It’s not immediately clear what measures Sec. Mnuchin would take, or even could take, to prevent cryptocurrency wallets from becoming “Swiss accounts.” But his comments won’t be the most settling for U.S. crypto traders, even if it’s more or less politispeak for now.
Any sort of U.S. crackdown wouldn’t go down smoothly, to be sure, especially not if traders’ outrage in South Korea is any indication at present.
Fed Looks at Digital Dollars?
Watch out Tether, there’s a new kid on the block? Not really, of course, but Sec. Mnuchin did admit he had discussed cryptocurrencies with U.S. Federal Reserve regulators.
In his remarks, Mnuchin claimed the Fed had at least scrutinized the idea of a digitized U.S. dollar but eventually disregarded the concept as unnecessary.
“This is something I’ve spoken to the Fed about […] there are Central banks thinking of, instead of issuing cash, physical cash, issuing a digital currency. So, I mean, the Fed has contemplated and looked at [it]. I don’t they have any intention of doing this in the near term […] we don’t think there’s any need for that at this point.”
What’s your take? Is Steve Mnuchin’s comments cause for concern, or more or less exactly what you’d expect from someone in his position? Teeth or no teeth? Sound off in the comments below.
Images via Market Watch, The Intercept