President Joe Biden's executive order on cryptocurrencies is heavily skewed toward risk and almost completely ignores any opportunities that the new technology may present.
To illustrate the administration's approach to cryptocurrencies, the executive order mentions risk 47 times, while mentioning opportunity four times: twice in relation to risk mitigation and only twice in the correct sense.
Innovation is mentioned 12 times, but capital, as in capital formation, is not mentioned once.
Business was mentioned 17 times, but almost always in terms of "protecting" the business.
The Executive Order makes clear that the government wants to promote "responsible" innovation, but the overall atmosphere is almost entirely centered on risk.
"This is totally about the future of the payment system in this country, the future of credit creation, commercial banking," a senior government official said in the background.
Banking in the proper sense is only mentioned twice. "Many Americans are underfunded and the cost of international transfers and payments is high. The United States has a strong interest in promoting responsible innovation to expand equitable access to financial services, particularly for Americans underserved by the traditional banking industry," the order reads.
Credit was not mentioned once. Trade is only relevant to the Secretary of Commerce. There is no mention of stocks or bonds, as all the original innovations that promised to upgrade finance from paper to code seem to have been ignored, except for verbal payment services.
Everything suggests that the focus is completely out of sequence, with almost the entire government producing various reports primarily on risks and "conditions that drive widespread adoption of digital assets".
"We know the implications for national security, we have demonstrated leadership in setting global payment standards for privacy and security, and ……"
The work to make cryptocurrencies more widely known in Washington is just beginning, and the Biden administration has previously complained that it has no experience with cryptocurrencies.
It's very clear in this executive order that it's very symbolic of an incredibly risk averse culture that doesn't see the opportunity even when it looks you in the face.