The stock market’s recovery from last year’s COVID-driven crash is a testament to the unprecedented level of federal stimulus pumped into the economy over the past twelve months, but few asset classes have benefitted from a rebound in financial markets more than cryptocurrencies.
has risen a staggering 548% during the past twelve months, while Ethereum
the second most valuable cryptocurrency, has gained roughly 690% during that time, according to FactSet, compared to a 71% rise for the S&P 500. But the fate of this rally could depend greatly on President Joe Biden and his administration’s regulatory stance to the burgeoning crypto economy, experts tell MarketWatch. Here are the five biggest regulatory questions the Biden administration will face in the coming months and years that will greatly impact cyrpto investors:
Who will be the Comptroller of the Currency?
The agency in charge of chartering and supervising national banks is typically one of the more obscure federal financial regulators. But OCC has caught the attention of the crypto community through its championing of integration between the crypto economy and the legacy financial system under the brief leadership of former Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks, said Jackson Mueller, director of policy and government relations at the crypto consultancy Securrency.
Read more: Fed’s Powell says bitcoin is more of a substitute for gold than the dollar
During his eight months as acting comptroller, Brooks issued issued several guidance letters affirming the ability of nationally chartered banks to serve as custodians of crypto assets and use a type of cryptocurrency called a stablecoin to make payments, among other issues. “The big issue is what happens to the guidance issued by Brooks and his team when someone else comes in,” Mueller told MarketWatch. “Do they go in a completely opposite direction and rescind that guidance?”
Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency that pegs its value to some other asset. The most popular is Tether, pegged to the U.S. dollar. The crypto community is fond of these instruments because they facilitate transactions between highly volatile digital currencies — some analysts argue that Bitcoin’s rally has been enabled by aggressive issuance of new Tether tokens.
Unlike currencies like Bitcoin and Ether, however, stablecoins are often not decentralized, but run by single companies and backed by assets held by traditional banks. Brooks’ guidance serves to give federally chartered banks the go-ahead to be a custodian for stablecoins and to use them for their own payments.
The crypto community was excited at reports that Biden would name Michael Barr, who served at the Treasury Department during the Obama administration, as comptroller. Barr had ties to several fintech companies and he served on an advisory board at Ripple, issuer of the…