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US Mulls Applying EFT Regulations to Cryptocurrency Accounts

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is currently assessing the use of the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) within the context of crypto platforms. This move is geared towards enhancing safeguards for consumers in a market that has recently witnessed significant breaches on platforms such as FTX, Crypto.com and Axie Infinity. Under the EFTA legislation, electronic fund service providers must apprise users of their responsibilities regarding unauthorized transfers.

Rohit Chopra, director of the CFPB, announced the agency’s plans to delve further into the operational aspects of significant digital companies at a recent Brookings Institution meeting. The scrutiny extends to how these companies handle user data and their strategic approaches to the introduction or endorsement of private digital currencies. This initiative arises from a growing awareness of vulnerabilities in the cryptocurrency sphere, with unauthorized transfers becoming increasingly common.

To address these concerns, the CFPB is considering the release of more comprehensive guidelines that would clarify the boundaries and responsibilities outlined in the EFTA as they apply to digital currencies and the entities that manage them. Chopra also emphasized the urgent need to bring more stability to the cryptocurrency ecosystem. He referred to a 2021 report suggesting that the Financial Stability Oversight Council may have a role to play in this regard.

The council could potentially categorize specific cryptocurrency-related activities as critical components of settlement and payment processes, a move rooted in the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. Such categorization would pave the way for stricter oversight, particularly in ensuring that instruments such as stablecoins fulfill their promise of stability.

Simultaneously, the CFPB is on the verge of introducing a well-drafted rule concerning personal financial data rights. This strategic step aims to accelerate the transition toward a transparent banking paradigm while emphasizing the importance of a robust framework for safeguarding user data.

The statement made by SDNY Judge Denise Cote that cryptocurrencies are best understood as falling under the category of “funds” presented a potentially revolutionary stance. If this reading were to become reality, it would represent a paradigm change, placing crypto platforms under the EFTA’s protective umbrella.

While this move unquestionably improves consumer protections, it also paves the way for crypto exchanges to face stricter regulatory obligations in the future.

As the CFPB intensifies its focus on the continuously evolving cryptocurrency landscape, industry participants, such as Marathon Digital Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: MARA), and consumers alike eagerly anticipate more nuanced and definitive policy guidance.

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