Stablecoin Issuers Could Soon Face Bank-Like Regulations

The Treasury Department’s highly anticipated report on stablecoins is expected to be released in late October.

Oct 1, 2021 at 4:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Oct 4, 2021 at 3:28 p.m. UTC

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

Stablecoin issuers including Tether and Circle could soon be subject to bank-like regulations, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The reported recommendation is part of a Treasury-led presidential advisory group’s upcoming stablecoin report. First announced in July, the report is now expected to be released in late October.

A Treasury spokesperson declined to comment.

A senior administration official confirmed to CoinDesk that the report is accurate and that the federal government is looking at two different pathways. The first is the congressional pathway outlined by the WSJ, though the official did not provide specifics. The second is through the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), a panel of regulators tasked with monitoring potential risks to the financial system.

The news comes as Capitol Hill grows increasingly concerned about the lack of regulation in the $130 billion stablecoin market.

In a floor speech on Wednesday, pro-crypto Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) called for regular audits of stablecoin issuers and expressed concern with the lack of transparency of major issuers’ reserve backings. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chair Gary Gensler has suggested that stablecoins might be classified as securities under U.S. law, thus subjecting them to more regulatory scrutiny.

A number of stablecoin issuers are in the process of, or have stated intentions to, obtain bank-like regulatory status. Circle said in August it wants to be a national crypto bank; Paxos, which issues USDP (formerly PAX) and BUSD in partnership with Binance, got a conditional banking charter in April.

“Today’s news reports about the potential recommendations from the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets (PWG) is encouraging, as the time has come to address the risks and seize the significant opportunities of dollar digital currencies like USD Coin (USDC),” Circle Chief Strategy Officer Dante Disparte told CoinDesk through a spokesperson,” adding:

“Circle has already been working toward becoming a full-reserve national commercial bank, and we strongly believe that a full-reserve banking model built on digital currency technology can lead to a more efficient, fair, inclusive and resilient financial system.”

In a research note Friday, investment firm Wedbush Securities said the news casts a favorable light on the Facebook-initiated Diem project.

”We believe Silvergate/Diem should receive the green light from regulators shortly after the regulatory goalposts are established given Silvergate’s longstanding warm relationship with regulators and very conservative nature in which it plans to manage stablecoin reserve balances,” Wedbush analyst David Chiaverini wrote.

Nikhilesh De, Zack Seward and Josh Fineman contributed reporting.

UPDATE (Oct. 1, 18:19 UTC): Adds comment from Circle.

UPDATE (Oct. 1, 18:28 UTC): Adds analysis from Wedbush Securities.

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Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

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