US Federal deposit insurer lists “crypto-asset risks” among its top priorities for the year

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Martin J. Gruenberg, the acting chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or FDIC, named “crypto-assets” among the agency’s key priorities in 2022, alongside addressing financial risks associated with climate change and promoting amendments to major federal statutes relevant to FDIC’s jurisdiction.

A Feb. 7 statement outlines five key areas that the agency deems most important for its mission of maintaining public confidence in the U.S. financial system. Number four on the list is evaluating “crypto-asset risks.”

Acknowledging the rapid pace with which digital asset-based products are becoming part of the financial landscape, the statement emphasizes systemic risks that this process could pose. Gruenberg further maintains that all federal banking agencies should join forces in assessing these risks and determining the scope of crypto-related activities which banks can safely undertake. As per the statement, the next step would be drafting a comprehensive guidance for banking organizations:

To the extent such activities can be conducted in a safe and sound manner, the agencies will need to provide robust guidance to the banking industry on the management of prudential and consumer protection risks raised by crypto-asset activities.

The FDIC is an independent agency tasked with providing deposit insurance to U.S. banks’ clients, as well as supervising financial institutions for risk management and consumer protection standards. The regulator has recently undergone a change of leadership, with former chairperson Jelena McWilliams stepping down on Feb. 4.

Gruenberg’s statement echoes those previously made by McWilliams as she discussed the U.S. banking agencies’ ongoing effort to provide banks with guidance on activities involving digital assets.