Federal Reserve Board (“FRB”) Vice Chair for Supervision Michael S. Barr said that regulators need to “strike the right balance” between innovation and investor protection in crypto regulation and that like activities and products should be regulated in the same way, even if the underlying technology differs.
In remarks at D.C. Fintech Week 2022, Mr. Barr said that financial innovation provides significant benefits, but it can be difficult to find the right balance between creating an environment that supports innovation and safeguarding the stability of the financial system. He warned against regulation that is too prescriptive or overly cautious. Overzealous regulation, he said, risks stifling innovation and securing the positions of industry-dominant firms, which can lead to elevated costs and limited access. He also said, however, that disruptions in the crypto industry revealed how susceptible some crypto assets are to fraud and other risks, and crypto firms should be subject to similar regulations compared to traditional finance where possible.
Mr. Barr noted that some crypto assets can be extremely volatile. As a result, he argued, it is unlikely that those assets will become a viable form of payment. He said that stablecoins have a greater potential to become an everyday form of payment. Further, he said that while work is underway to find solutions for the novel risks posed by stablecoins, it remains to be seen whether banks will be able to allow such arrangements in a safe and controlled manner. He highlighted FRB projects such as the FedNow instant payment system and the FRB’s consideration of issuing a central bank digital currency, and emphasized that the FRB will continue to work with other banking regulators to foster a safe environment for crypto assets.
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