KEY POINTS

  • Janet Yellen will be the first woman elected as Treasure Secretary
  • Yellen had unfavorable views regarding Bitcoin in the past
  • Several bureaus within the treasury department have increasingly engaged with crypto over the past few years

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Janet Yellen to become his Treasury Secretary. If confirmed, Yellen will be the first woman elected to chair the Treasury Department. 

With a career spanning decades, Yellen was a top economist during the Clinton administration and was also the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve from 2014 to 2018. 

Those in the cryptocurrency have looked at the president-elect’s appointees as well as candidates who won the election to find those who have a favorable view on cryptocurrency. Yellen, in the past, was critical of the industry. In 2018, she called Bitcoin “anything but useful,” Cointelegraph reported. The former Federal Reserve chair at that time said the benchmark cryptocurrency has difficulty because of its decentralized nature.

“It’s not used for a lot of transactions, it’s not a stable source of value, and it’s not an efficient means of processing payments. It’s very slow in handling payments,” she said in a fintech forum. 

In 2017, she called Bitcoin a highly speculative asset and not a stable source of value. Since leaving the Fed, Yellen has not mentioned anything about cryptocurrency. 

Things have changed as well in space. Several major institutions, like MicroStrategy and Square, have put Bitcoin into their reserves, calling it an asset that can earn more returns than the dollar. 

PayPal Holdings Inc has also begun allowing the buying and selling of cryptocurrency on PayPal and soon on Venmo. 

Several bureaus within the treasury department have also made headlines related to cryptocurrency this year. For instance, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) gave banks a go signal to allow custody of cryptocurrency assets. Just recently, the OCC is compelling banks to not discriminate and provide fair access to financial services to anyone that wants them, including cryptocurrency companies, who found themselves being shunned by banks for doing business in the space.

Additionally, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the IRS are increasing their attention in the area. The IRS recently shared a draft of the new tax form, which conspicuously displays a question that taxpayers must answer with regards to their cryptocurrency holdings.

Bitcoin in Emerging Economies This picture shows a person holding a visual representation of the digital crypto-currency Bitcoin, at the 'Bitcoin Change' shop in Tel Aviv, Israel, Feb. 6, 2018. Photo: JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images