The White House is poised to put itself at the center of US crypto policy

The Biden administration is preparing to release an initial government-wide strategy for digital assets as early as next month and task federal agencies with assessing the risks and opportunities it presents, according to people familiar with the matter.

Senior administration officials have held several meetings on the plan, which is being drafted into executive order, the people said. The directive, which would be presented to President Joe Biden in the coming weeks, puts the White House at the center of Washington’s efforts to deal with cryptocurrencies.

Federal agencies have taken a scattershot approach to digital assets in recent years, and Biden’s team faces pressure to lead the issue. Industry executives often lament what they say is a lack of clarity on U.S. rules and others worry that an adoption by China and other countries of government-backed coins could threaten the dollar dominance.

The White House declined to comment.

The increased attention from the Biden administration comes at a time of growing consumer interest in the volatile cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin, the largest and most liquid cryptocurrency, fell below $37,000 on Friday from an all-time high of nearly $69,000 in November.

The final stage draft of the executive order details the economic, regulatory and national security challenges posed by cryptocurrencies, said the people who asked not to be named discussing internal deliberations. It would request reports from various agencies expected in the second half of 2022.

One such study is said to come from the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a group that includes the heads of major financial watchdogs in Washington, examining the possible systemic impacts of digital assets. Another government report would examine illicit uses of virtual coins.

Meanwhile, the directive would also compel other agencies to step in — assigning roles to everyone from the State Department to the Commerce Department. Some of these tasks will focus on ensuring that the United States remains competitive as the world increasingly embraces digital assets.

The administration’s plan, including the guidelines for the order, could be further tweaked before it is finalized, people have warned.

The administration should also weigh in on the possibility of the United States issuing a government-backed coin, known as a central bank digital currency or CBDC, people familiar with the talks said. But, according to one of the people, the administration should wait before taking a firm position, because the Federal Reserve is still considering the issue.

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