New York now has a new leader at the helm of its financial services regulator, and it should oversee an era of digital-currency-friendly regulations. Adrienne Harris has been confirmed as head of the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). Having held positions in the digital currency industry, she is expected to herald a new era of enabling regulation for the sector.
Harris has held a number of key positions, in both the private and public sectors. Her most prominent role was in the Obama administration, where she served as the former president’s special assistant for economic policy. In this role, she developed and executed strategies ranging from financial reform to consumer protection and cybersecurity.
While announcing Harris as the new NYDFS superintendent, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she would not only protect consumers, but also advance “an equitable economic recovery that seeks to uplift all citizens.” , not just a privileged few”.
“There is no one better positioned to help drive the economy of this state forward, and for my part, I look forward to working with Adrienne to deliver real results for the people of this great state,” said said the governor.
Harris, who has also held several positions in the Treasury Department, is the first African-American woman to lead the NYDFS. She is committed to working with all stakeholders in the financial services industry to “build a strong, fair and sustainable financial system, creating a better economic future for all New Yorkers.”
For the digital currency space, the appointment is significant. As a global financial center, New York has a significant impact on what happens in the wider global financial system. Harris has a good understanding of the industry, having served on the board of the Digital Dollar Foundation, an advocacy group founded by former CFTC chairman Christopher Giancarlo. The foundation is pushing for a US central bank (CBDC) digital currency.
For years, digital asset companies have had a huge challenge as they seek to serve New Yorkers, with the elusive BitLicense proving a little too elusive for some. Three years after the introduction of BitLicense in June 2015, only Circle, Ripple, Coinbase and bitFlyer had obtained the license.
Since then it has become easier to get, but not as easily as in many other states.
New York is also considered the benchmark for financial regulation. As such, any directives that NYDFS issues are likely to have a ripple effect across the country. With Harris at the helm, the industry is likely to take a tough but friendly approach.
During her Senate nomination hearing, Harris made it clear that she is behind digital currencies and expects the industry to continue to grow. However, like many in the US government, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, she worries about the potential for crime.
“Cryptocurrency is here to stay, but the anti-money laundering, consumer, cyber risks are incredibly high, so we need real rigor,” she told the Senate Finance Committee.
The Georgetown University alumni told the committee that they would look into the BitLicense and why it continues to be so difficult for many companies to obtain. She is committed to clearing the backlog of unity and making it easier for digital asset operators to serve New Yorkers.
In additional comments after the hearing, she said she would review how recent developments such as stablecoins fit into the state’s regulatory framework.
Watch: SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce on Bitcoin Association Blockchain Policy Issues
New to Bitcoin? Discover CoinGeek bitcoin for beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn about bitcoin – as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto – and blockchain.