Averted a year ago, controversial transaction monitoring rule is back on Treasury’s radar

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Averted a year ago, controversial transaction monitoring rule is back on Treasury’s radar

As the Department of the Treasury has announced its regulatory agenda for the fiscal year on Jan. 31, many in the Web3 space have likely experienced flashbacks to December 2020, when the agency had first proposed to impose Know Your Customer, or KYC, rules on transactions that involved self-custodied crypto wallets.

The Treasury’s semiannual agenda and regulatory plan, a document that is meant to inform the public of the department’s ongoing rulemaking activities and encourages public feedback, features a clause entitled “Requirements for certain transactions involving convertible virtual currency or digital assets.”

Ascribed to the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, it proposes to require banks and money service businesses to “submit reports, keep records and verify the identity of customers” in relation to transactions with funds held in unhosted wallets.

In FinCEN parlance, unhosted (also known as self-hosted) wallets are those that are not controlled by an intermediary financial institution or service. Users of such wallets “interact with a virtual currency system directly and have independent control over the transmission of the value.”

The rule proposed in December 2020 would have required registered cryptocurrency exchanges to collect personal details of their customers transacting with an unhosted wallet if the value of the transaction exceeded $3,000. A person sending funds from an exchange account to their private wallet would fall within the scope of the rule.

Introduced in the waning days of Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin’s tenure, the rule was scrapped amid massive pushback from the industry.

At the time, Mnuchin said that the rule addressed “substantial national security concerns” associated with the cryptocurrency market. The resurgence of the agency’s focus on the self-hosted wallets measure could have to do with the “crypto as a national security threat” focus of the executive order that the Biden administration is reportedly preparing.

Still, mentioning a rule on the Treasury’s semiannual agenda does not mean that it will necessarily be adopted.