Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks on digital assets at Kogod’s Center For Innovation

Yellen outlined the Treasury’s strategy to regulate digital assets and ensure responsible innovation

Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks on digital assets at Kogod’s Center For Innovation

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivered her first official address on digital assets at Kogod School of Business’ Center for Innovation on April 7, laying out a strategy she said will encourage “responsible innovation” and protect consumers, businesses and investors.

American University President Sylvia Burwell introduced and welcomed Yellen before she delivered her remarks.

“Our speaker has quite a wingspan,” Burwell said. She highlighted Yellen’s professional achievements, which include being the first female treasury secretary.

Yellen’s speech followed a March executive order by President Joe Biden that called for a “coordinated and comprehensive government approach to digital asset policy.”

Digital asset policy could take the form of regulation, as well as increased government oversight and research.

In her speech, Yellen outlined policy objectives and lessons that will guide the Treasury’s approach to digital assets, which include cryptocurrency and other blockchain-based technologies. She said it was important to regulate digital assets due to their history of volatility and the increased possibilities and risks brought about by recent advances.

“Digital assets have grown explosively, reaching a market cap of $3 trillion last November from $14 billion just five years prior,” Yellen said. 

The objectives, she said, are to “first, protect consumers, investors and businesses; second, safeguard financial stability from systemic risk; third, mitigate national security risks; fourth, promote US leadership and economic competitiveness; fifth, promote equitable access to safe and affordable financial services; and, finally, support responsible technological advances, which take account of important design considerations like those related to privacy, human rights and climate change.”

Yellen said that in making policy, the Treasury would rely on previous lessons about responsible innovation, inequity, risk and activity-based regulation rather than technology-based, the importance of sovereign money and collaboration.

“In my view, the government’s role should be to ensure responsible innovation,” Yellen said. “Innovation that works for all Americans, protects our national security interests and our planet, and contributes to our economic competitiveness and growth.” 

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