Emmer succeeds in extending comment period on digital assets rulemaking

Following a bipartisan, bicameral effort led by U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), the U.S. Treasury Department last week extended the comment deadline on a proposed rulemaking that would impact the blockchain industry and unhosted cryptocurrency wallets.

“I appreciate the Treasury Department for responding to my concern and taking time to ensure we do not stifle this industry and its growth,” Rep. Emmer said on Jan. 15. 

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau within the Treasury Department, on Dec. 18 published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the Federal Register requesting comments on proposed requirements for certain transactions involving convertible virtual currency (CVC) or digital assets with legal tender status (LTDA). 

Under the NPRM, banks and money services businesses would be required to submit reports, keep records, and verify the identity of customers in relation to transactions above certain thresholds involving CVC or LTDA wallets not hosted by a financial institution, or CVC/LTDA wallets hosted by a financial institution in certain jurisdictions identified by FinCEN. Comments on the digital assets rule were scheduled to be received by Jan. 4, according to FinCEN.

However, Rep. Emmer and his colleagues thought the department’s NPRM did not afford the public a reasonable opportunity to respond, according to a Dec. 31 letter they sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Among the eight other lawmakers who joined Rep. Emmer in signing the letter were U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL).

“It is imperative that the concerns of stakeholders are heard and responded to, and allowing more time for input is an important step towards ensuring accountability and transparency in the rulemaking process,” Rep. Emmer said.

FinCEN on Jan. 14 announced it was reopening the comment period for the proposed rulemaking and provided an additional 45 days for comments on the proposed requirements that banks and money services businesses report certain information regarding counterparties to transactions by their hosted wallet customers, and on the proposed recordkeeping requirements.  

“My nonpartisan request last month was simple: allow additional flexibility for stakeholders to comment and advise our government on this proposal,” said Rep. Emmer. “This extension was both appropriate and necessary.”