President Joe Biden’s top pick for head of the US Treasury Department Janet Yellen responded to questioning this week by the US Senate Finance Committee. Questioning from Senator Maggie Hassan prompted Yellen to speak about cryptocurrency and the use of said digital currency by the public. Hassan asked Yellen about cryptocurrency and its use “for terrorist financing.”
“Cryptocurrencies are a particular concern,” said Yellen. “I think many are used, at least in a transactions sense, mainly for illicit financing.” It’s not a complete surprise that a nominee like Yellen would respond this way, given the largely negative public image cryptocurrency racked up over the past several years.
Yellen noted that she wanted to “examine ways in which [the US government] can curtail [cryptocurrency’s] use and make sure that [money laundering] doesn’t occur through those channels.” It could be that Yellen was referring only to cryptocurrency as it appears in illicit channels, but it’s more likely the US government will continue to attempt to crack down on cryptocurrency and its use in general.
Controlling some cryptocurrency networks should be possible if their hosting is done inside a single jurisdiction. It’ll be far more possible to handle the ins and outs of a single sort of cryptocurrency in the near future if regulators concentrate on one form or another. For now, bunching the whole lot together under one name, cryptocurrency, remains the equivalent of attempting to regulate “money.”
Not only is it not that simple, it’s far more complicated. Not all cryptocurrencies use the same technology – and new iterations spring up every day. Stick around as we continue to watch this new system of commerce evolve.