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Senator wants Federal Reserve to approve crypto banks

By Daniel Tyson

17:07, 12 January 2022

Bitcoin in front of a background
Senator impatient about crypto bank approvals - Photo:Shutterstock

Wyoming’s Sen. Cynthia Lummis urged Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell to “throw a lifeline” to cryptocurrency institutions in her state Tuesday during Powell's confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committee.

Lummis, often described as a bitcoin evangelist, claimed Special Purpose Deposit Institutions, crypto banks, have been “stonewalled” for more than a year due to the Fed’s slow application process.

"My disappointment is profound. My frustration is profound," Lummis, a Republican, said at the hearing. "Chairman Powell, throw me a lifeline."

In 2018, Wyoming lawmakers passed HR 0074 allowing cryptocurrencies to be held in physical financial institutions, instead of simply apps and digital wallets. Currently, the state’s banking regulators have approved charters for Kraken and Avanti, but the cryptocurrency companies are still waiting for federal approval. 

During the hearing, Powell explained that while the central bank is carefully examining the prospect, it has been “hesitant because they’re hugely precedential.”

Bitcoin champion

On several occasions, Lummis has asked Federal Reserve and Treasury officials for progress updates on cryptocurrency regulation. Last year, she wrote an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying that Powell and vice chair nominee Lael Brainard are hindering progress in adopting a federal cryptocurrency policy.

“Unfortunately, over the past year my faith in the Fed has been deeply shaken by its political approach to digital assets in my home state, Wyoming, greatly contributing to my concerns over President Biden's nominees, Jay Powell and Lael Brainard,” she wrote.

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It’s been reported, she is encouraging other senators to block Powell’s reappointment.

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Crypto hawk

Lummis is a hawk on cryptocurrency and is one of two senators invested in the digital assets. The ranking member of the chamber’s Banking, Housing and Urban Development Committeel, Pat Toomey, is the other.

As Capital.com reported in October, Lummis bought at least $50,000 worth of bitcoin during a downturn and her campaign has taken contributions from Bitcoin, according to SEC filings.

Lummis is expected to introduce comprehensive cryptocurrency legislation this session, sources comfirmed to Capital.com on Wednesday. The legislation would create a new regulatory body to be overseen by the Security and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Additionally, the bill would regulate stablecoins and create crypto tax laws and consumer protection, the sources comfirmed.

Read more: US senator discloses large bitcoin purchase

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