P Xenos and M Bacina
US Commerce Department surveying cross-border digital currency usage
The U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has proposed a rule change to their benchmark survey, requiring all US financial services companies to identify if they have engaged in cross-border services related to digital currencies.
The "BE-180 Benchmark Survey of Financial Services Transactions between U.S. Financial Services Providers and Foreign Persons" is a mandatory questionnaire issued by the BEA every five years.
If implemented, this new proposal would give Commerce Department statisticians a more accurate idea of the prevalence of cross-border digital currency payment activity. While public blockchains permit analysis of raw transactions, without knowing the digital wallet addresses being used by identified businesses, it is much harder for agencies to determine what proportion of transactions are from US businesses.
The survey covers brokerages, private equity funds, custody services, financial advisories and the many others, with the BEA estimating that 7,000 respondents will reply.
BEA Services and Surveys Branch Chief Christopher Stein said (emphasis added):
We are not collecting data related to the physical currency asset. We are not collecting separate dollar amounts related to these services, we're just emphasizing that, for example, a facilitating-type brokerage fee associated with the currency transaction is within the scope of the survey.
The proposal suggests the rule changes will "allow BEA to more closely align its statistics with international guidelines."
The data gathered will be used to monitor U.S. and international financial services, promote trade and will apparently be put to use for US businesses to identify and evaluate market opportunities.