CFPB Making a Play for Crypto Regulation Turf
Of those federal agencies jockeying to be the primary crypto regulator, the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trade Commission take up most of the oxygen in the room, but now a new body has entered the fray – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The CFPB has been hesitant to dip their toe in the crypto pool, but that’s changing. The Block takes a look at what they want to focus on, and how they might make their play for turf, which those in the crypto industry may want to watch closely.
“Crypto is now becoming a vehicle of choice," (CFPB) director Rohit Chopra told the progressive think tank Americans for Financial Reform last month, noting the potential for fraud that could occur in the sector. "I really want to be sure that we are thinking about digital currencies in the context of real-time payments."
In Congressional testimony and elsewhere, Chopra has highlighted the prospect of payment stablecoins as a CFPB domain, although he's always careful not to push the bounds of the agency's authority in the crypto universe and avoids treading on the toes of the older, larger Securities and Exchange Commission.
Just weeks after those comments at AFR, Chopra answered "no" when asked by Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., if the agency was planning more crypto enforcement after a November analysis of consumer complaints about crypto scams drew attention from lawmakers. A spokesperson for the CFPB declined to comment on the November analysis and any change in enforcements against crypto companies.
Last January, the agency hired Alexis Goldstein, a progressive policy advocate who’d quickly made a name for herself testifying before Congress in opposition to the crypto industry. The industry at the time reacted with alarm, but little has happened aside from a July request for better crypto analytics software after scrapping a contract with Elliptic. A year later, the CFPB seems to be moving in.