A group of top federal regulators has set up a group to study Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday.
Speaking at an event in downtown Washington, Mnuchin said the super-group of financial regulators that he chairs, the Financial Stability Oversight Council, has set up a working group on cryptocurrencies. The council comprises the heads of all the major agencies and is empowered to impose regulations on non-bank businesses and industries.
"We’re very focused on cybercurrencies," Mnuchin said, suggesting the group would examine the potential for speculation on cryptocurrencies to hurt consumers and for the digital currencies to be used for illicit purposes.
"We want to make sure that bad people cannot use these currencies to do bad things," he said, adding that he doesn't want bitcoin to become the modern equivalent of a Swiss bank account.
A handful of agencies has begun regulating or monitoring aspects of cryptocurrencies, including the Treasury for money laundering. But the council is empowered to propose sweeping new rules.
The council, which Mnuchin chairs, last held a meeting in December, the minutes of which have not yet been released.
As for the possibility of the government itself issuing a digital currency, Mnuchin downplayed that possibility, saying that he doesn't see any need "at this point."