Why the U.S. Might Lose Stablecoin Throne without Clear Regulation

By  Tobi Oluyede November 6, 2023

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  • Stablecoins are revolutionizing the world of cryptocurrencies by offering stability in contrast to the volatile nature of other digital assets
  • The United States faces a crucial decision regarding stablecoin regulation, as the lack of a clear regulatory framework raises concerns
  • Other nations, including Singapore, Japan, the UAE, and Hong Kong, are actively embracing stablecoins, potentially undermining the dominance of the U.S. dollar
  • The "Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act of 2023" (H.R. 4766) is proposed as a novel regulatory framework that aims to provide clarity, transparency, and oversight

Stablecoins have emerged as a quiet yet profound revolution. They offer a haven of stability within the turbulent sea of cryptocurrencies, shaping the future of money.

But the United States finds itself at a critical juncture in need of resolute action. Recently, senior Federal Reserve official Michael Barr voiced deep concerns over the issuance of stablecoins without strong federal oversight.

The issue isn't the existence of stablecoins, but rather how they're regulated. The U.S. might lose its spot as a global stablecoin leader if prompt action isn't taken.

Thankfully, amid this sea of uncertainty, there is hope on the horizon. The Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act of 2023 promises a clear and, well, stable path for the future of stablecoins in the U.S.

U.S. Stablecoins, Unstable Regulations

In the grand theater of decentralized finance (DeFi), stablecoins have taken center stage, providing a glimpse into the future of currency and programmable money. Stablecoins, pegged to currencies like the U.S. dollar, promise to blend the efficiency of cryptocurrencies with the stability of fiat money.

However, in the expansive realm of cryptocurrencies, the United States faces a challenge. The regulation of stablecoins in the United States has sparked concerns due to the lack of a clear framework. This casts uncertainty over the future of this innovative financial technology.

Asserting the nation's stance in this nascent industry is paramount. The world watches with bated breath, pondering the United States' role in shaping the future of stablecoins and the potential consequences of inaction.

Onshore Stablecoins Going Global

While the United States contemplates stablecoin regulation, other nations are diving into the financial revolution, including Singapore , Japan , the UAE and Hong Kong .

For instance, Singapore granted a payment license to Circle, a prominent U.S.-based stablecoin provider. Simultaneously, Tether, a dominant player, thrives offshore, managing billions in assets. Payment giant PayPal also announced its stablecoin offering, PayPal USD (PYUSD), earlier in August 2023 — which they have been subpoenaed for by the SEC .

The international expansion of crypto underscores a pivotal decision for the United States: whether to regulate them or let them flourish abroad. Neglecting the current landscape could result in crypto flourishing elsewhere, potentially undermining global dominance of the dollar. As the international stablecoin market surges, the U.S. must face this critical decision head-on.

H.R. 4766: A Novel Regulatory Framework for Stability

In response to the growing prominence of stablecoins and the pressing need for regulatory clarity, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry introduced the " Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act of 2023 " in July 2023 after a historic bipartisan effort .

The Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act primarily targets payment stablecoins. These are digital assets designed for transactions with a fixed redemption value. If this legislation is enacted, it would create a clear regulatory framework for stablecoin transactions.

The legislation offers both federal and state regulatory options. Banks and credit unions are federally regulated , while non-bank issuers can choose between state or federal registration and oversight. The Federal Reserve holds rulemaking authority for state-qualified issuers.

Notably, payment stablecoins are exempt from SEC and CFTC jurisdiction, clarifying that they are neither securities nor commodities. However, only custodians supervised by federal stablecoin regulators or state banking/credit union supervisors can manage stablecoins. Custodians must safeguard customer funds by sandboxing them from their personal assets.

In essence, H.R. 4766 aims to provide regulatory clarity, focusing on transparency, consumer protection and financial stability. It positions the United States as a global leader in stablecoin regulation through a flexible framework adaptable to technological advancements and emerging risks.

A Future With or Without the Dollar

As the world explores dollar alternatives — a phenomenon now known as " de-dollarization " — such as the euro or yuan, the U.S. must choose its role: Leader or bystander. The future of the dollar's position in DeFi is pivotal. A leading role is sure to bring economic merits, while continued apathy may cede dominance to other currencies.

And today, this is largely true: The largest stablecoins — notably USDC and USDT — are denominated in dollars. The choice before the U.S. is of paramount importance and will profoundly impact the nation's economy and the stability of the dollar in an evolving financial world.

As the international stablecoin market surges, it's essential that the U.S. does not merely watch from the sidelines but actively embrace this innovation. The recent introduction of the Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act of 2023 represents a leap towards sound regulation. It provides clarity, transparency, and oversight for seamless stablecoin payments.

With this proactive step, the United States can look towards stablecoins to combat the growing threat of de-dollarization. The United States has a chance to lead with best-in-class regulation globally if the stablecoin bill wins Senate support.

Maybe it's time to put aside regulatory indifference and embrace open, fair competition in a dynamic landscape. This will usher in a new era of financial technology and lead the nation towards a flexible future in the world of digital assets.

The U.S.' stance on stablecoin regulation and its role in the evolving global financial ecosystem will indeed help shape a future with much promise of security and innovation.