Aiming to curb abuse, House adopts bipartisan fintech task force bill on voice vote

Bipartisan legislation designed to strengthen efforts to deter abuse of financial technology passed the House by voice vote Monday and heads to the Senate for consideration.

H.R. 56, the Financial Technology Protection Act, was a re-tread from the previous Congress, where last September it was also adopted on voice vote; it was not taken up in the Senate.

The bill was introduced for the current Congress Jan. 3 by Reps. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.). It would, among other things, create the “Independent Financial Technology Task Force to Combat Terrorism and Illicit Financing” to conduct independent research on terrorist and illicit use of new financial technologies, including digital currencies; and develop legislative and regulatory proposals to improve counter-terrorist and counter-illicit financing efforts. It would report yearly to Congress on its proposals.

The task force would be led by the Treasury secretary and include the U.S. attorney general, director of national intelligence and the heads of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Secret Service and FBI. In consultation with the other five members, the Treasury secretary would also name to the panel six members to represent the private sector, including the banking industry, nonprofit groups and think tanks. At least two of these private-sector posts would be reserved for individuals with experience in the fintech industry.

In a statement, House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said she selected the bill for floor consideration and worked with Ranking Member Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) “to ensure widespread bipartisan support.”

“As stated in last year’s National Money Laundering Risk Assessment from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, many cryptocurrencies are being designed to make virtual currency transactions untraceable and are increasingly being used by bad actors,” Waters’ statement noted. “The talent and technological capabilities to track these transactions must keep up so the government can identify terrorists, hackers, and other criminals who try to hide their activities and proceeds using cryptocurrencies and related exchanges.”

Waters Floor Statement on Bipartisan Legislation to Investigate Abuses of Financial Technology