US Senate bill aims to regulate DeFi like traditional banks

US Senate bill aims to regulate DeFi like traditional banks

The Regulation of DeFi Protocols in the US: A Step Towards Greater Security and Compliance

The cryptocurrency industry has been a topic of debate and speculation for years, with concerns about money laundering and illicit activities often at the forefront of discussions. In an effort to address these concerns and enhance national security, the US Senate is preparing to introduce a new bill that aims to impose strict anti-money laundering (AML) requirements on decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols. This bill, known as the Crypto-Asset National Security Enhancement Act of 2023, seeks to regulate DeFi protocols by imposing controls similar to those applied to traditional banks.

Understanding DeFi Protocols and their Regulatory Challenges

DeFi protocols are financial applications that allow users to borrow, lend, and trade digital currencies using smart contracts. Unlike centralized crypto businesses like Coinbase, these protocols operate on permissionless blockchains, making them more difficult to regulate. Anyone with a cryptocurrency wallet can utilize DeFi protocols, which poses challenges for regulators seeking to combat illicit activities.

The proposed legislation acknowledges these regulatory challenges and aims to address them by imposing obligations on entities that control or provide access to DeFi protocols. This includes organizations like Uniswap Labs, which develop complex smart contracts for streamlined frontends of protocols such as the Uniswap decentralized exchange. Additionally, the bill states that if no entity controls a DeFi protocol, individuals who invest more than $25 million in its development will be responsible for fulfilling regulatory obligations.

Stricter Controls for Enhanced Security and Compliance

The main objective of the bill is to combat the rise in crypto-facilitated crime and prevent money laundering and sanctions evasion that pose a threat to national security. To achieve this, the bill proposes several measures that DeFi protocols and controlling entities must adhere to:

  1. Vetting and Collecting Information on Customers: DeFi protocols and controlling entities will be required to screen and compile data on their clients, ensuring the identification and verification of users. This is akin to the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements applied to traditional banks. By collecting this information, authorities can better track and investigate suspicious activities.

  2. Maintenance of Anti-Money Laundering Programs: DeFi protocols and controlling entities must develop and maintain robust anti-money laundering programs. These programs should be regularly updated to adapt to new threats and ensure compliance with AML regulations.

  3. Reporting Suspicious Activity: It will be mandatory for DeFi protocols and controlling entities to promptly report any suspicious activity to the relevant authorities. This proactive approach will aid in the prevention and detection of illicit activities within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

  4. Sanctions Compliance: DeFi protocols and controlling entities must prevent individuals who have been sanctioned from using their protocols. This measure aligns with existing efforts to enforce sanctions and prevent sanctioned entities from engaging in financial transactions.

Balancing Security and Innovation

While the bill aims to enhance security and compliance within the DeFi space, it is essential to strike a balance between regulation and fostering innovation. DeFi protocols have revolutionized traditional financial systems by offering decentralized and inclusive alternatives. Excessive regulation could stifle innovation and hinder progress in this fast-evolving industry.

It is crucial for regulators to engage with industry participants, technologists, and experts to devise effective and proportionate regulations. Collaborative efforts will enable the development of regulatory frameworks that address security concerns while preserving the unique advantages of DeFi protocols.


The proposed bill represents a significant step towards regulating the DeFi industry in the United States. By imposing stricter controls and obligations on DeFi protocols and controlling entities, the bill aims to combat money laundering, enhance national security, and ensure compliance with existing regulations. However, it is crucial for regulators to strike a balance between security and innovation to foster the growth of this groundbreaking technology. Through ongoing collaboration and dialogue, the blockchain industry can continue to evolve while maintaining the highest standards of security and compliance.