WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is expected to assert some federal control over cryptocurrencies, injecting federal oversight into a monetary Wild West.
Biden will issue an executive order this week that directs federal agencies to address Bitcoin and other digital assets, according to reports from Politico and the Associated Press.
The U.S. government has not had a unified approach to cryptocurrencies.
The potential problems they pose include challenges to national security, threats to the dominance of the dollar and added difficulty in stopping criminal activity.
The move comes as administration officials have raised concerns in recent weeks about Russia’s use of cryptocurrency to evade the impact of crushing sanctions in response to its invasion of Ukraine. The sanctions have sent the ruble to historic lows and have closed the country’s stock market.
Two people familiar with the process said the executive order on cryptocurrency was expected to be issued this week, and it had been in the works long before the war. Both people spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the order.
In January, the Federal Reserve announced it would seek public comment on whether to issue a fully digital U.S. dollar. That could serve as a more stable alternative to other digital forms of money.
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The bipartisan infrastructure legislation signed into law last year created new tax reporting requirements for crypto investors.
And last month, the Justice Department announced its first director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, Eun Young Choi, who will be charged with prosecuting criminal cases related to the use of cryptocurrency and digital assets.
More than one in 10 Americans reported purchasing or trading cryptocurrency in the past 12 months, according to a 2021 study by the University of Chicago.
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Maureen Groppe has covered Washington for nearly three decades and is now a White House correspondent for USA TODAY. Follow her on Twitter @mgroppe.
Contributing: Associated Press