In brief

  • Few details have emerged about the rumored executive order.
  • A report suggests the order would instruct various agencies to study crypto and issue recommendations.

The White House is in the course of preparing an executive order directed at cryptocurrency, according to several unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg. The report described the potential order as part of the Biden Administration's attempt to set up a government-wide approach to regulating the sector.

The Bloomberg report suggested the focus of any order would be on directing federal agencies to conduct research and produce recommendations:

"The proposed directive would charge federal agencies to study and offer recommendations on relevant areas of cryptotouching on financial regulation, economic innovation and national security, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing plans that are still under consideration ... The framework would touch a range of bureaucracies, from the Treasury Department and financial regulators to the Commerce Department, the National Science Foundation and national security agencies."

The report also noted that, while a draft of the order has circulated among various departments, it's not clear the White House will go forward with it, and may instead pursue more informal measures to achieve the same goal.

The rumor of the executive order comes at a time when many divisions of the U.S. government are paying unprecedented attention to the crypto sector. This includes the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the Justice Department, all of which have made statements or announced impending reports concerning crypto.

President Biden cannot write new laws concerning cryptocurrency—that is the prerogative of Congress. But he can use executive orders to exert considerable power over various agencies, directing them to prioritize certain activities over others and providing guidance related to law enforcement.

The larger strategy is likely to become clear in the coming weeks as government officials, as well as the White House, show more of their cards concerning the U.S.'s crypto priorities. While the crypto industry has long begged for clearer rules about what is legal under U.S. law, the rules—when and if they come—could prove harmful to the industry given the negative sentiments about crypto many top officials have expressed.