Could Bitcoin and other cryptos be banned in the U.S.?

  • Bitcoin (BTC-USD) hit a record high of $60,000 on Saturday, nearly doubling in value this year, as the Beeple NFT sale continued to draw attention to the cryptocurrency, as well as more institutional investment. Prices then pulled back 3% to the $58,000 level on reports that India would propose a law banning cryptos, giving holders of the virtual assets up to six months to liquidate. The bill, one of the world's strictest policies against cryptocurrencies, would criminalize everything from possession, issuance and mining to trading and transferring crypto assets.
  • Why is India doing this? It's not the first nation to take action against Bitcoin, with similar bans or restrictions seen in countries like China, Pakistan, Russia, Bolivia, North Macedonia and Morocco. There are concerns that Bitcoin's decentralized system will make it more complicated for central banks to create their own CBDCs (central bank digital currencies), as well as worries that cryptos could be used to finance illicit activities. CBDCs are a promising tool that will allow central banks to have real-time data about their economies, offering the ability to track money flows, spending and savings data and what sectors are suffering or doing well. Leaving privacy concerns aside, a central bank could be more informed on monetary policy when armed with that information, while the government could possibly link future stimulus payments, universal basic income or fiscal policy to CBDCs.
  • Many Americans are unaware that it was illegal to own gold from 1934 to 1974, though the prohibitions were relaxed starting in 1964. A U.S. citizen couldn't own or trade gold anywhere in the world, with exceptions for some jewelry and collector's coins, as the federal government and banks shored up their financial soundness. Turning to cryptos, the the Secret Service and the IRS have already worked with Coinbase (COIN) and exchanges to hold private crypto wallet keys, while the US Marshals Service has seized and auctioned many a Bitcoin. What would happen if the U.S. government or Fed felt threatened by the rise of decentralized banking? What if it interfered with their plan for CBDCs?
  • Go deeper: Bringing forth a Bitcoin ban could be legally difficult for the U.S. government, but even if would go through, enforcing the ban would be the harder part of the equation. Unless the government would exert strict control over the internet, individuals could download Bitcoin wallet software, run a node and complete transactions. That may make the currency out the realm of widespread adoption, but could also increase its demand for the exact same reason. Over the last decade, Bitcoin has also made inroads in the U.S. financial system, where it is treated as a commodity, so a ban could face other barriers like stymieing innovation and closing down institutions overseeing billions of dollars in crypto assets.
  • China is speeding up currency trials as it moves to a digital renminbi, which is an attractive tool for a government that is highly concerned with social control.

Recommended For You

Comments (950)

To ensure this doesn’t happen in the future, please enable Javascript and cookies in your browser.
Is this happening to you frequently? Please report it on our feedback forum.
If you have an ad-blocker enabled you may be blocked from proceeding. Please disable your ad-blocker and refresh.