(Nov. 5, 2021) Payment stablecoins and their arrangements should be subject to a federal regulatory framework on a consistent and comprehensive basis through an act of Congress – including by requiring that stablecoins may only be issued by federally insured credit unions and banks, according to a report issued this by a presidential working group focusing on the digital currencies.
Issued by the Treasury Department’s “President’s Working Group on Financial Markets,” along with the FDIC and the OCC, the report also said that such federal legislation would complement existing authorities held by federal regulators meant to ensure market integrity, investor protection and prevention of illicit finance.
“Stablecoins that are well-designed and subject to appropriate oversight have the potential to support beneficial payments options,” said Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen in a statement. “But the absence of appropriate oversight presents risks to users and the broader system.”
The report’s conclusions are being interpreted by some that stablecoin issuers would have to secure either a bank or credit union charter before participating with the payment method. In any event, a key recommendation is that legislation be enacted that only allows stablecoins to be issued by federally insured financial institutions.
Key concerns that should be addressed in legislation, according to the report, include:
- Risks to stablecoin users and protection against stablecoin runs, which legislation should address by requiring stablecoin issuers to be insured depository institutions, “which are subject to appropriate supervision and regulation, at the depository institution and the holding company level.”
- Payment system risk, which legislation should address by requiring custodial wallet providers to be subject to appropriate federal oversight. “Congress should also provide the federal supervisor of a stablecoin issuer with the authority to require any entity that performs activities that are critical to the functioning of the stablecoin arrangement to meet appropriate risk-management standards,” the report stated.
- Systemic risk and concentration of economic power, which should be addressed by legislation that requires stablecoin issuers to comply with activities restrictions that limit affiliation with commercial entities. “Supervisors should have authority to implement standards to promote interoperability among stablecoins,” the report asserts. “In addition, Congress may wish to consider other standards for custodial wallet providers, such as limits on affiliation with commercial entities or on use of users’ transaction data.”
In the meantime, the report states, the FDIC and OCC are committed to taking action to address risks falling within their jurisdictions, “including efforts to ensure that stablecoins and related activities comply with existing legal obligations, as well as to continued coordination and collaboration on issues of common interest.”
The report states that while Congressional action is “urgently needed” to address the risks inherent in payment stablecoins, “in the absence of such action, the agencies recommend that the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) consider steps available to it to address the risks outlined in this report.”
The report also notes that work on digital assets and other payment innovations related to cryptographic and distributed ledger technology is ongoing throughout the Biden Administration. “The administration and the financial regulatory agencies will continue to collaborate closely on ways to foster responsible financial innovation, promote consistent regulatory approaches, and identify and address potential risks that arise from such innovation,” the report stated.