Earlier today, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin delivered a press briefing addressing the increasing prevalence of cryptocurrencies and the Treasury’s stance on such digital assets. Mnuchin spoke of ‘very serious concerns’ about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Facebook’s Libra.
The Treasury Secretary began his address by acknowledging the widespread rise in interest in cryptocurrencies ‘such as Bitcoin and Libra’.
Mnuchin went on to state that the Treasury has ‘serious concerns’ regarding the growing misuse of virtual currencies by ‘money launderers, terrorist financiers and other bad players’. Directly after this statement, Mnuchin then referenced to the representatives of Facebook’s Calibra subsidiary who will be appearing at a Senate hearing regarding their proposed cryptocurrency tomorrow, July 16th .
Facebook’s Libra project received the brunt of the Treasury Secretary’s criticism, who voiced ‘very serious concerns’ about the potential misuse of the Libra cryptocurrency in particular, delivering the mainstream narrative of Bitcoin as the tool of illicit activity.
‘Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs, human trafficking. This is indeed a national security issue’.
Mnuchin voiced support of greater restrictions on digital asset service providers and an increase in measures to ensure cryptocurrencies were not being used for illicit activities, stating that such providers must implement the same anti money laundering and countering financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) safeguards as traditional financial institutions.
In addition, ‘money transmitters of cryptocurrency’ must comply with the relevant Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and register with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), whose mission, explained Mnuchin, is to ‘safeguard the financial system… through the dissemination of financial intelligence’.
In the hours directly after the Treasury Secretary’s address, the price of Bitcoin rose more than $400.
Sporting a sweaty brow, Mnuchin fobbed off one closing question regarding the President speaking about the economy by responding that ‘the economy is doing fabulous, it’s the bright spot of growth’.
President Trump recently stated publicly via Twitter that he was ‘not a fan’ of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. He then proceeded to suggest that Facebook would need a bank charter to launch their proposed global cryptocurrency.
With the briefing also coming shortly after the recent comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell likening Bitcoin to gold, cryptocurrencies are currently enjoying the mainstream limelight. Though the attention is mixed in its sentiment, recent events certainly imply a level of increased cryptocurrency awareness within the traditional politico-economic system.
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