Biden orders the government to study cryptocurrency and 'explore' a US digital dollar

Joe Biden at a desk at a tech conference.
(Image credit: Getty - Bloomberg)

On Wednesday, President Biden signed an executive order regarding government oversight of cryptocurrency, which so far is being seen by the crypto industry as a positive step. The order, which we first learned about last month, tasks government agencies with producing reports on the risks of digital assets, as well as opportunities they present, including the creation of an official US digital currency.

According to a statement released by the White House, the Biden administration sees the rise in digital assets as "an opportunity to reinforce American leadership in the global financial system and at the technological frontier." However, cryptocurrency "also has substantial implications for consumer protection, financial stability, national security, and climate risk," the statement reads.

Among other things, the order directs US agencies to recommend new policies that protect the country from any illicit activity and national security risks related to digital assets. But it isn't all about defense. The order also tells the Department of Commerce to "work across the US Government in establishing a framework to drive US competitiveness and leadership in, and leveraging of digital asset technologies" and to assess "the technological infrastructure and capacity needs for a potential U.S. CBDC in a manner that protects Americans’ interests."

Figures in the crypto community were quick to celebrate the announcement. "This is a hopeful moment," wrote Faryar Shirzad, chief policy officer at Coinbase. "We look forward to continuing our work with regulators and lawmakers to ensure the path forward encourages public participation, protects US leadership, and takes a holistic view of this transformational moment." 

"Well, the EO is just further affirmation that when serious officials take a sober look at crypto, the reaction is not to light their hair on fire," Jerry Brito of CoinCenter said on Twitter, "but instead to recognize it as an innovation that the US will want to foster and lead while mitigating obvious risks."

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The value of Bitcoin rose nearly 8% after Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen prematurely released some of the details of the Biden crypto plan on the Treasury Department's website the day before the executive order was announced and signed, but the optimism couldn't sustain the price. Currently, one Bitcoin is worth $39,141, down almost 7% from yesterday.

Regarding a possible US digital currency, nothing is settled yet, but the White House is encouraging the Federal Reserve to continue its "research, development, and assessment efforts" for a central bank digital currency.

Jorge Jimenez
Hardware writer, Human Pop-Tart

Jorge is a hardware writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, he's reviewing all sorts of gaming hardware, from laptops with the latest mobile GPUs to gaming chairs with built-in back massagers. He's been covering games and tech for over ten years and has written for Dualshockers, WCCFtech, Tom's Guide, and a bunch of other places on the world wide web.