In July 2019, U.S. President Donald Trump came out harshly against Bitcoin, broadcasting skepticism about it and other cryptocurrencies to his dozens of millions of Twitter followers.
A yet-to-be-published book by former national security advisor John Bolton entitled The Room Where It Happened claims that this was not the President’s first encounter with Bitcoin.
The book, whose launch has since been delayed due to pressure from the United States Department of Justice, includes an alleged quote from President Trump about Bitcoin. “Go after Bitcoin,” the U.S. leader purportedly said to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
The Washington Examiner, which originally obtained this excerpt from the book, wrote that Bolton dated the quote to a conversation in May 2018—a year prior to President Trump’s Bitcoin tweets and when the cryptocurrency bubble was still unraveling.
Bolton wrote that the comment was made in the context of a conversation with Secretary Mnuchin on trade sanctions and tariffs against China.
Regulation Is Coming
While President Trump apparently made this comment in May 2018, only recently has Washington begun to take steps to better regulate this industry.
Starting in 2019, Secretary Mnuchin made multiple multiple mainstream appearances, towing Trump’s sentiment about cryptocurrencies. Days after Trump’s Bitcoin tweet, the Treasury Secretary said to CNBC:
“We’re looking at all of the crypto assets. We’re going to make sure we have a unified approach and my guess is that there are going to be more regulations that come out from all these agencies.”
Earlier this year, in February, this comment culminated in a statement from Mnuchin, who was speaking on behalf of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). He said that FinCEN will soon roll out “significant new requirements” for cryptocurrency service providers.
The Secretary added that while the government wants to “make sure that technology moves forward,” digital assets should not be used like the modern equivalent of “old Swiss secret number bank accounts.”
FinCEN is likely to follow the guidelines set in place by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The FATF in June 2019 advised member nations to enforce the implementation of what is known as the “travel rule.” The rule states that virtual asset service providers (VASPs) are required to obtain and hold “originator (sender) information and required beneficiary (recipient) information and submit this information to beneficiary institutions.”
VASPs include exchanges, fiat on/off ramps, and custodians.