Chairman Carper Highlights New GAO Report on Virtual Currencies

GAO finds the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau needs to be more engaged in addressing implications of the new technology

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that examined the emerging regulatory, law enforcement, and consumer protection challenges with virtual currencies.

The report examined the extent to which federal agencies are addressing the emergence of virtual currencies. GAO found that while many federal financial regulatory and law enforcement agencies are working collaboratively together to address virtual currency issues, interagency working groups have largely ignored the issues of consumer protection, and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) generally has not been involved. CFPB concurred with the findings. GAO recommends that the CFPB should identify and join interagency working groups focused on virtual currencies.

“Bitcoin, and virtual currencies broadly, are still in their infancy,” said Chairman Carper.“Fundamental questions remain about what a virtual currency actually is, how it should be treated, and what the future holds.  That said, we do know that there appears to be growing global interest in these technologies and that warrants a thoughtful and timely response here in the United States and around the world.

This Government Accountability Office (GAO) report helps answer some of our questions regarding what the federal government and law enforcement have done and are continuing to do to effectively address this technology and stay ahead of the curve,” continued Chairman Carper. “However, this report also raises some important questions, particularly for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  GAO’s report underscores the importance that all sectors — law enforcement, industry, relevant regulators, and consumer protection agencies  — must come to the table and engage in meaningful dialogue to provide clear rules of the road for entrepreneurs, investors, and consumers alike.  I appreciate GAO’s hard work on this issue and I urge consumer protection agencies to become more involved so the federal government can  develop smart, sensible, and effective policies to ensure that consumers are better protected. At the same time, our Committee will continue to monitor how all relevant federal agencies respond to developments of this technology.”

For a full copy of the most recent GAO report, click here.