Skip to main content
Menu Icon

InfoBytes Blog

Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.

  • Tennessee updates its UCC to amend “money” definition and include CBDCs


    On April 11, the Governor of Tennessee signed into law SB 2219 (the “Act”) that amended Section 47-1-201(b) of the Tennessee Code by redefining “money” and codifying “central bank digital currency.” The term “money” was updated to include a new provision that will state that money does not include a central bank digital currency. “Central bank digital currency” will instead be defined as a digital currency issued by a federal reserve, foreign government or foreign reserve system, and will include a digital currency, digital medium of exchange, or digital monetary unit of account processed by the entity. The Act will go into effect on July 1.

    Securities State Issues Cryptocurrency CBDC

  • House Financial Services Committee questions financial agency representatives on technological implementations

    Federal Issues

    On December 5, the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology and Inclusion held a hearing on “Fostering Financial Innovation: How Agencies Can Leverage Technology to Shape the Future of Financial Services.” The Committee invited representatives to testify from the SEC, OCC, FDIC, CFPB, NCUA, and the Federal Reserve. The representatives fielded an array of questions focused on artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, and central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), and broadly focused on the need to balance technological innovation within the financial sector with managing risk.

    On cryptocurrencies, congressional representatives posed questions on the nature of criminal activity among other risks. The discussion addressed bank risks related to crypto assets—while banks do not hold crypto assets, the representative from the Federal Reserve noted how banks may face liquidity risks when holding deposits from crypto-related companies. On CBDCs, the Committee asked for an update on the U.S. CBDC; the Federal Reserve representative mentioned the Fed’s current research on CBDC technologies but noted that the agency is still “a long way off from thinking about the implementation of anything related to a CBDC.”

    On the topic of artificial intelligence, agency representatives discussed how banks are using the technology for fraud monitoring and customer service. The discussion addressed how artificial intelligence technology can create deepfakes using generative models to mimic an individual’s appearance or voice, and thus help scammers bypass traditional security checks. In response, some countries have implemented a secure digital ID that biometrically syncs to one’s smartphone, and the NCUA noted that it is currently evaluating this technology.

    Federal Issues Financial Services Central Bank Digital Currency Fintech OCC FDIC CFPB NCUA Federal Reserve

  • Fed’s Vice Chair remarks on payments innovation, CBDCs, and financial inclusion

    On October 27, Fed Vice Chair for Supervision, Michael Barr, delivered a speech at the Economics of Payments XII Conference discussing the Fed’s place in the payments system and highlighting its role as a bank supervisor and operator of key payment infrastructure. Emphasizing the Fed’s introduction of its FedNow instant payment service (covered by InfoBytes here), which was designed to enable secure instant payments in response to the increasing demand for secure and convenient payment options, Barr encouraged banks to build upon the new payment infrastructure. He also noted that ongoing experimentation with new payment technologies, such as stablecoins, creates a need for regulation, particularly where an asset is “pegged to government-issued currencies.” 

    Regarding central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), the Fed is engaged in research and in discussions with various stakeholders; however, it has not decided on whether to issue a CBDC. The Vice Chair stressed that any move in this direction would require “clear support” from the Executive Branch and authorization from Congress.

    Barr emphasized the Fed’s commitment to working with the international community to improve cross-border payment systems as well as the need for research into both traditional and emerging payment methods, noting that innovation should “promote broad access and financial inclusion.”  Finally, the remarks touched on the Fed’s proposed revisions to the interchange fee cap for debit card issuers, with a call for public input on the matter (covered by InfoBytes here).

    Bank Regulatory Fintech Federal Reserve Payments CBDC Financial Inclusion Stablecoins

  • Fed governor speaks on responsible innovation in money and payments

    On October 17, Federal Reserve Board Governor Michelle Bowman provided remarks on innovation in money and payments, including crypto assets, central bank digital currency (CBDC), and the development of instant payments, in which she laid out her vision for “responsible innovation,” which recognizes the important role of private-sector innovation and leverages the U.S. banking system supported by clear prudential supervision and regulation. With respect to CBDC, Bowman said that she has yet to see a compelling argument that CBDC could address frictions within the payment system, promote financial inclusion, or provide the public with access to safe central bank money any more effectively or efficiently than alternatives. She explained that, given that the U.S. has a safe and well-functioning banking system, the potential uses of a U.S. CBDC remain unclear and, at the same time, could introduce significant risks and tradeoffs. Bowman also expressed skepticism over stablecoins, stating that in practice they have been less secure, less stable, and less regulated than traditional forms of money. Finally, Bowman discussed technological innovations in wholesale payments, which are large-value, interbank transactions. Bowman said that the Fed is researching emerging technologies that could enable or be supported by future Fed-operated payment infrastructures, including depository institutions transacting with “tokenized” forms of digital central bank money. Bowman noted that banks and other eligible institutions already hold central bank money as digital balances at the Fed. She also stressed that wholesale payment infrastructures operated by the Fed “underpin domestic and international financial activities” by serving as a “foundation” for payments and the broader financial system. Because these wholesale systems function “safely and efficiently” today, it is necessary to investigate and understand the potential opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs for wholesale payment innovation to support a safe and efficient U.S. payment system.

    Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on CBDCs here.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Federal Reserve Cryptocurrency CBDC Fintech Digital Assets Money Service / Money Transmitters

  • Fed governor outlines CBDC risks

    On April 18, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle W. Bowman cautioned that the risks of creating a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC) may outweigh the benefits for consumers. Bowman said the Fed continues to engage in exploratory work to understand how a CBDC could potentially improve payment speeds or better financial inclusion, and noted that the agency is also trying to understand how new potential forms of money like CBDCs and other digital assets could play a larger role in the economy. In prepared remarks delivered before Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business Psaros Center for Financial Markets and Policy, Bowman raised several policy considerations relating to privacy, interoperability and innovation, and the potential for “unintended effects” on the banking system should a CBDC be adopted. She also commented that due to the upcoming rollout of the agency’s FedNow Service in July (covered by InfoBytes here), real-time retail payments will happen without the introduction of a CBDC. With respect to privacy, Bowman cautioned that any CBDC “must ensure consumer data privacy protections embedded in today’s payment systems continue and are extended into future systems.” She added that “[i]n thinking about the implications of CBDC and privacy, we must also consider the central role that money plays in our daily lives, and the risk that a CBDC would provide not only a window into, but potentially an impediment to, the freedom Americans enjoy in choosing how money and resources are used and invested.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Federal Reserve Digital Assets CBDC Consumer Finance Consumer Protection Payments FedNow Fintech

  • Treasury seeks to advance CBDCs

    Federal Issues

    On March 1, Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance Nellie Liang announced that the Treasury Department will lead a new senior-level working group to advance work on a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC). As previously discussed in a Treasury report released last September on the future of money and payments (covered by InfoBytes here), Treasury was called to lead an interagency working group to complement work undertaken by the Federal Reserve Board to consider the implications of a U.S. CBDC. The working group will consist of leaders from Treasury, the Fed, and White House offices, including the Council of Economic Advisors, National Economic Council, National Security Council, and Office of Science and Technology Policy. In the coming months the working group “will begin to meet regularly to discuss a possible CBDC and other payments innovations,” Liang said during a workshop titled “Next Steps to the Future of Money and Payments.” The working group will focus on three main policy objectives: (i) how a U.S. CBDC would affect U.S. global financial leadership; (ii) potential national security risks posed by a CBDC; and (iii) the implications for privacy, illicit finance, and financial inclusion if a CBDC is created.

    To support discussions on a possible CBDC and other payment innovations, Liang said the working group will develop an initial set of findings and recommendations. Those findings and recommendations may relate to whether a U.S. CBDC would help advance certain policy objectives, what features would be required for a U.S. CBDC to advance these objectives, choices for resolving CBDC design trade-offs, and areas where additional technological research and development might be useful.

    Liang commented that the working group will also “engage with allies and partners to promote shared learning and responsible development of CBDCs.” She pointed out that CBDC efforts are already underway in jurisdictions around the world, with 11 countries already having fully launched CBDCs, “while central banks in other major jurisdictions are researching and experimenting with CBDCs, with some at a fairly advanced stage.” Liang stressed that regardless of whether a CBDC is adopted in the U.S., the country “has an interest in ensuring that CBDCs interact safely and efficiently with the existing financial infrastructure; that they support financial stability and the integrity of the international financial system; that global payment systems are efficient, innovative, competitive, secure, and resilient; and that global payments systems continue to reflect broader shared democratic values, like openness, privacy, accessibility, and accountability to the communities that rely upon them.”

    Federal Issues Digital Assets Department of Treasury Of Interest to Non-US Persons CBDC Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security Fintech

  • Fed governor “highly skeptical” of U.S. CBDC

    On October 14, Federal Reserve Governor Christopher J. Waller spoke during the “Digital Currencies and National Security Tradeoffs” symposium presented by the Harvard National Security Journal regarding the U.S. dollar and central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Waller said that he is “highly skeptical of whether there is a compelling need for the Fed to create a digital currency.” Regarding foreign CBDCs, Waller first considered the emergence of foreign CBDCs in a world without the U.S. CBDC. He noted that “advocates for a CBDC tend to promote the potential for a CBDC to reduce payment frictions by lowering transaction costs, enabling faster settlement speeds, and providing a better user experience.” Because of “the well-known network effects in payments,” Waller pointed out that “the more users the foreign CBDC acquires, the greater will be the pressure on the non-U.S. company to also use the foreign CBDC.”

    However, Waller considered that the broader factors underpinning the dollar’s international role would not change. Waller further noted the possibility that a foreign-issued CBDC could have the opposite of its intended effect and make companies even less willing to use that country’s currency. Waller further noted that creating a U.S. CBDC “would come with a number of costs and risks, including cyber risk and the threat of disintermediating commercial banks, both of which could harm, rather than help, the U.S. dollar's standing internationally.” He said he believes that a U.S. CBDC would raise many issues, including money laundering and international financial stability. Waller also considered a scenario in which a privately issued stablecoin pegged to a sovereign currency is available for international payments. He stated that they may be more attractive than existing options due to their ability to provide real-time payments at a lower cost and their ability to provide a safe store of value for individuals residing in or transacting with countries with weak economic fundamentals. He further warned that stablecoins “must be risk-managed and subject to a robust supervisory and regulatory framework.” Waller reiterated that "no decisions have been made" at the Fed on CBDCs and noted that his remarks are intended to provide a free and open dialogue on their utility. He also noted that he is “happy to engage in vigorous debate regarding my view,” and “remain[s] open to the arguments advanced by others in this space.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Digital Assets Fintech Federal Reserve CBDC

  • Treasury discusses future of digital assets, says CBDC may take years

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On September 23, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Under Secretary for Domestic Finance Nellie Liang discussed ways in which digital assets could alter the future of money and payments in the U.S. Speaking at the Brookings Institution, Liang highlighted recommendations presented in an agency report released earlier in September as part of President Biden’s Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development in Digital Assets (covered by InfoBytes here). The report, Crypto-assets: Implications for Consumers, Investors, and Businesses, outlined several significant areas of concern, including “frequent instances of operational failures, market manipulation, frauds, thefts, and scams.” The report advised federal agencies, including the CFPB, SEC, CFTC, and DOJ, to (i) continue to aggressively pursue enforcement actions focused on the crypto-asset sector; (ii) clarify existing authorities to ensure they are appropriately applied to crypto-assets; (iii) coordinate efforts to increase compliance; and (iv) take collaborative measures to improve the quality of information about crypto-assets for consumers, investors, and businesses.

    Liang also commented on the potential benefits of adopting a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC), “such as preserving the uniformity of the currency, or providing a base for further innovation,” but warned that further research and development on the technology needed to support such a currency may take years. “There are many important design choices that would require additional consideration,” Liang said, stating, for example, “a retail CBDC would be broadly available to the public, while a wholesale CBDC would be limited to banks and other financial institutions.” Liang said Treasury plans to lead an inter-agency working group to advance further work on a possible CBDC and “consider the implications of CBDC in areas such as financial inclusion, national security and privacy.”

    Liang also discussed other recommendations made in the report related to the possible establishment of a federal regulatory framework for nonbank providers of payment services. “A federal framework could provide a common floor for minimum financial resource requirements and other standards that may exist at the state level,” Liang pointed out. “It also would complement existing federal [anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism] obligations and consumer protection requirements that apply to nonbank payment providers,” and “could work in conjunction with a U.S. CBDC or with instant payment systems.” She also commented on Treasury’s work to develop a faster, cheaper cross-border international payment system and noted the agency will consider potential risks, such as privacy and human rights considerations.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues Digital Assets Department of Treasury CBDC Cryptocurrency Fintech

  • Financial Services Committee Republicans ask Fed for clarification on CBDC

    On September 7, Republican members of the House Financial Services Committee submitted a letter to Federal Reserve Vice Chair Lael Brainard in response to a May hearing examining the potential impact of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). The letter, among other things, requested that Brainard provide her testimony regarding the Fed’s authority under the Federal Reserve Act to issue a CBDC (and without separate specific authorizing federal legislation). Specifically, the members requested that Brainard clarify: (i) the Fed’s motivation for issuing a CBDC; (ii) the need for Congress to support a Fed-issued CBDC; (iii) the Fed’s position on individual retail accounts at the Fed; (iv) the need for Congress to authorize an intermediated CBDC model; and (v) the need for “strong support” from the Executive Branch. The members asked for a response in writing by September 30.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Digital Assets Federal Reserve CBDC Digital Currency Federal Reserve Act

  • Treasury releases fact sheet on digital asset international engagement

    Federal Issues

    On July 7, the Secretary of the Treasury released a Fact Sheet on the Framework for International Engagement on Digital Assets. The Fact Sheet was delivered to President Biden, as directed in the Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets (E.O.) and in consultation with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Commerce, and the heads of other relevant agencies. The E.O. outlined an interagency approach to address the risks and harness the potential benefits of digital assets and their underlying technology, and directed the Administration to promote the “development of digital asset and central bank digital currencies (CBDC) technologies consistent with [the Treasury’s] values and legal requirements.” According to the announcement, “the framework is intended to ensure that, with respect to the development of digital assets, America’s core democratic values are respected; consumers, investors, and businesses are protected; appropriate global financial system connectivity and platform and architecture interoperability are preserved; and the safety and soundness of the global financial system and international monetary system are maintained.” The announcement also noted that “a history of robust engagement provides a strong foundation for expanded, strategic engagement going forward” and highlighted other key international engagements.

    Federal Issues Digital Assets Fintech Of Interest to Non-US Persons Cryptocurrency CBDC


Upcoming Events