Across the world, countries have been developing regulatory frameworks for digital currencies such as Bitcoin. These frameworks have been quite different. Some countries have banned cryptocurrencies entirely while other countries have created regulations favorable to the currencies. But one country has been noticeably missing in action from all this regulation: the United States. This in spite of the country's leading standing in world economics.
There is no simple answer as to why this is the case. Because of both the size of the country and the expansiveness of its bureaucracy, creating a single and cohesive framework for digital currency regulation in the United States is exceedingly difficult. There are many different financial regulatory agencies in the country and each has crafted its own stance toward cryptocurrencies.
In 2013, for example, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, which is a department of the U.S. Treasury, decided to classify Bitcoin as "a decentralized virtual currency." However, just a year later, the Internal Revenue Service issued a proposal that would have classified digital currencies such as Bitcoin as "property for U.S. federal tax purposes." Then, a year after this in 2015, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission decided to classify cryptocurrencies as commodities.
This helter-skelter approach to digital currency regulation has continued up to the present day. Just this past summer, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the Securities Exchange Commission issued a joint outline regarding regulatory compliance for those entities performing cryptocurrency custodial services. The two agencies indicated back then that they could find no circumstance in which digital currencies could comply with prevalent laws, in particular the Customer Protection Rule.
Heath P. Tarbert, who is the chairman of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, says that, in spite of all this, U.S. regulatory agencies have been very careful not to impede innovation in the nascent cryptocurrency industry. He further expects that the country in the future will enact "solid, principles-based regulations" of digital currencies that will help move the technology forward while helping the country maintain its position as an economic superpower.