US Treasury Bulking Up Crypto Policy Advisers as Wallet Reg Rumors Swirl

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the top financial crimes watchdog within the U.S. Treasury Department, is hiring two policy officers to help draft regulations for the cryptocurrency space.

Disclosed in Dec. 11 job postings, these Strategic Policy Officers will “assist in the development of policy responses” to “threats” posed by cryptocurrency, issue advisories to financial institutions and collaborate across government and the private sector on crypto policy.

The timing of the listings is notable. Just two weeks prior, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong stoked rumors that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would rush out self-hosted wallet regulations that Armstrong speculated could cripple the industry.

The Block further illustrated what those regulations might look like late Thursday night. As soon as Friday, Mnuchin could mandate that crypto companies file a so-called “currency transaction report” with FinCEN on individuals moving $10,000+ in cryptocurrency to or from a self-hosted crypto wallet in a single day.

Whether those regulations will actually arrive, what they would actually look like and if they’d survive after President-elect Joe Biden and his designated Treasury Secretary nominee Janet Yellen take office is yet to be determined.

But the minutiae of the Dec. 11 listings indicate that FinCEN is eager to boost its crypto base chops regardless of who runs Treasury. Both top secret-clearance level jobs are permanent, full-time positions. Given the requirements that candidates have experience drafting, strategizing and researching crypto policy, it’s safe to say FinCEN is only interested in subject-matter experts.

That could be the difference between crafting effective cryptocurrency regulations and the type of knee-jerk crackdowns Armstrong warned against. Crypto industry lobbying group the Blockchain Association told CoinDesk at the time of Armstrong’s tweet that it was “actively educating” policymakers to fix “misconceptions” around self-hosted wallets.

“To properly regulate emerging industries, especially the crypto economy, in the most nimble and responsive way requires officials in government to have true 21st-century expertise and experience,” Executive Director Kristin Smith told CoinDesk Thursday. “We’ve been encouraged by the type of talent FinCEN has attracted over the past several years and it’s encouraging that they’re looking to add even more relevant expertise with this new hire.”

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