t’s no surprise that the cryptocurrency industry is one big unregulated conglomerate of “financial” institutions, and now 3 U.S. financial regulators are asking for the crypto-space to abide by U.S. financial institution laws.
Late last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a joint statement directed at the cryptocurrency industry about the need to comply with regulations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).
The BSA passed by the United States of Congress in 1970 is an act that requires U.S. financial institutions to collaborate with the U.S. government in cases of suspected money laundering and fraud. This act also helps to prevent banks from unknowingly becoming the middlemen of illicit activity.
The act also requires banks and individuals to report suspicious activity that may indicate money laundering or fraud, but banks aren’t the only institutions that the BSA works with. Some other institutions include businesses that deal with money orders, casinos and now possibly the cryptocurrency industry.
In the joint statement, the leaders asked that anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) obligations apply to what the BSA defines as financial Institutions. As well as urging cryptocurrency participants to register their digital assets depending on the “nature of the digital asset-related activities.”
“For example, certain “commodity”-related activities may trigger registration and other obligations under the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), while certain activities involving a “security” may trigger registration and other obligations under the federal securities laws. If a person falls under the definition of a “financial institution,” its AML/CFT activities will be overseen for BSA purposes by one or more of the Agencies (and potentially others).”
Additionally, each agency went into detail describing and dividing the categories respective to the focus of each agency. The SEC “has jurisdiction over securities and securities-related conduct.” The statement warned of the risks behind the transactions in digital assets.
The CFTC regulates key participants in the derivatives markets, including boards of trade, futures commission merchants, introducing brokers, swaps dealers, major swap participants, retail foreign exchange dealers, commodity pool operators, and commodity trading advisors.
Finally, FinCEN “has supervisory and enforcement authority over U.S. financial institutions.”
All 3 agencies are asking for implantation of AML programs to regulate cryptocurrency activity.
SEC Chairman Jay Clayton, CFTC Chairman Heath Tarbert, and FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco signed the statement. As cryptocurrency gains growth and mainstream traction, US financial regulation agencies have their eyes set on regulations. Their first step is with this latest joint statement.
The philosophy behind cryptocurrency is its secure and anonymous transactions. Having regulations may change that space and may even change the way it works. The US is not the only country looking to regulate cryptocurrency. There were reports of self-regulation plans in South Korea and Japan in early 2018 to avoid strict government laws.
South Korea and Japan became the first countries to create a self-regulating body: the Japanese Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) and the Korean Blockchain Association (KBA).
With more non-financial institutions, such as Facebook, joining the cryptocurrency space soon with their new project, Libra, the US and many other countries will soon be following suit.