Legislation directs Treasury to develop electronic dollar

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Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives to “direct the Secretary of the Treasury to develop and pilot digital dollar technologies that replicate the privacy-enhancing characteristics of physical money.”

HR 7231 — cited as the Electronic Money and Secure Hardware Act or simply the ECASH Act — was introduced March 28 by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass. The text of the bill recently became available on Congress.gov.

The bill has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee for further consideration.

HR 7231 aims to further the development and deployment of electronic United States dollars “in such quantities, denominations, and technical forms as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, deems appropriate.”

Electronic U.S. dollars would be classified and regulated in a manner similar to physical currency “for the purposes of know-your-customer, anti-terrorism, and transaction reporting laws, and would therefore not be subject to exemptions from third party to a reasonable expectation of confidentiality”, according to the text of HR 7231.

E-dollars could be owned, held, and used by the public through widely accepted hardware devices “without third-party custodial or payment processing intermediaries.”

E-money issued under the act should be distinguished from other forms of e-money issued by or on behalf of other segments of the federal government other than the Treasury, “including forms of ‘central bank digital currency’ which may be issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve or its designated officers,” according to HR 7231.

The Secretary of the Treasury, by law, would be required to establish the Innovation Electronic Money Program with a director appointed by the President for a five-year term approved by the Senate.

Until a President-appointed Director is appointed and approved, the Secretary of the Treasury, with Presidential concurrence, may appoint an Acting Director.
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