Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell took a meeting with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong on May 11, according to Fed records.
Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, was also present at the meeting.
On May 14, Armstrong tweeted about having “spent most of [the] week in DC meeting with members of Congress and heads of various federal agencies,” but didn’t specifically mention Powell.
The meeting was held less than a week before the Fed announced plans to release a discussion paper detailing its research into a central bank digital currency.
The Fed has been studying digital money for some time—it has been exploring CBDCs, or central bank digital currencies, as a kind of state-controlled “digital dollar,” though Powell has stressed that there’s no rush to develop one. Powell has repeatedly stated that, though China is already piloting its own state-rolled digital currency, the U.S. should continue to proceed with caution.
"The design of a CBDC would raise important monetary policy, financial stability, consumer protection, legal, and privacy considerations and will require careful thought and analysis—including input from the public and elected officials," the Fed chair said in a video message on May 20.
One day prior, on May 19, the acting Currency Comptroller Michael Hsu suggested forming an inter-agency task force with the Fed and FDIC specifically dedicated to crypto.
The May 11 meeting between Armstrong and Powell coincided with a crash in the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Over the course of that week, Bitcoin dipped from the high $50,000s to around $40,000.