President Biden has signed an executive order to establish the first-ever comprehensive federal digital assets strategy for the United States. The order, announced March 9, aims to position the U.S. in a leading role in the innovation and governance of the digital assets ecosystem at home and abroad in a way that both protects consumers and advances U.S. global competitiveness. According to the White House, the order marks an intensification of the U.S. government’s efforts to promote responsible innovation in the digital assets space, protect U.S. national security interests, and contribute to U.S. global economic competitiveness and growth.
The approach outlined in the executive order is designed to reinforce U.S. leadership in the global financial system and safeguard the long-term efficacy of critical national security tools like sanctions and anti-money laundering frameworks. The order identifies the current administration’s policy priorities, both for cryptocurrencies and any future U.S. central bank digital currency, to help guide the future evolution of the digital asset ecosystem in a manner consistent with U.S. values. It signals the U.S. Government’s commitment to working with allies, partners, and the broader digital asset community to shape the future of digital asset systems in a manner that is safe, inclusive, and consistent with democratic values. It also suggests that as the digital assets ecosystem evolves, so too will the U.S. Government’s approach.
Included in the executive order is direction for relevant departments and agencies to initiate research into the merits of a U.S. central bank digital currency, including an assessment of possible risks and benefits to consumers, investors, payment systems, implications for national security, human rights, and financial inclusion. The effort will include laying out the measures needed to establish a central bank digital currency should there be a determination that doing so is in the national interest. The order establishes a timeline ranging from 180 to 210 days for relevant agency report submissions in anticipation of a 12-month timeline for regulatory action by Congress and President Biden.
According to reports, more than 100 countries are currently exploring or piloting central bank digital currencies for both domestic and international applications.