The White House Press Secretary, Sarah H. Sanders, said on Thursday that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “being monitored”, and did not explain further when asked about what specifically is being looked at. This past year, the IRS won a case to get information from Coinbase and the SEC has made its thoughts known on ICOs – the US government is certainly watching. It’s even possible that actions that could be taken include some bans and required registration of accounts – or just more clarifications as have been seen from the SEC and FINCEN.
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Are cryptocurrency bans still a possibility? Would it even matter?
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general could be seen as ‘unregulated’ in the eyes of the White House – especially the Department of Homeland Security – and as such it is still a possibility in the future that they may decide that an outright ban is necessary. Obviously there is the question of whether or not banning a cryptocurrency is possible at all. The short answer is not really, the long answer is that cryptocurrencies are (usually) decentralised; and as such, this means that there is not any one place that could be closed down to stop the trade and use of cryptocurrencies. That being said, the one thing that is somewhat centralised is exchanges, and if the various US based exchanges were banned or otherwise forced to close down (at least towards customers in the US). This would cause both a drop in buying power and create uncertainty in the market about the actions of other nations where exchanges do business, as these nations may feel the same way the US does and as such decide to take the same action. Banning or otherwise closing exchanges with overly burdensome regulations will not remove all transactions using cryptocurrencies in a given nation though, as private transactions would still take place – assuming that the top 25 cryptocurrencies still have worth than the two (or more) parties involved in the transaction will be willing to transact.