The U.S’ regulator in charge of banks and federal savings associations has reached out for public input as it reviews the use of cryptocurrencies in the financial services sector. The office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) also seeks comments on the place blockchain technology in finance.
The OCC recently published two notices, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. They covered a wide array of subjects relating to its responsibility as the country’s banking regulator. The second notice, in particular, focuses on matters digital and has a sharp focus on the subject of cryptocurrencies.
As per the statement, the OCC was reviewing regulations surrounding digital banking activities. They need to remain relevant and “continue to evolve with developments in the industry.” OCC’s notice posed the following questions:
“What types of activities related to cryptocurrencies or crypto assets are financial services companies or bank customers engaged? To what extent does customer engagement in crypto-related activities impact banks and the banking industry? What are the barriers or obstacles, if any, to further adoption of crypto-related activities in the banking industry? Are there specific activities that should be addressed in regulatory guidance, including regulations?”
The regulator further sought to know about the distributed ledger technology (DLT), asking:
“How is distributed ledger technology used, or potentially used, in banking activities (e.g., identity verification, credit underwriting or monitoring, payments processing, trade finance, and records management)? Are there specific matters on this topic that should be clarified in regulatory guidance, including regulations?”
The OCC wants comments on barrier or obstacles they face on the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the banking industry. This, according to the agency, will to help it update its policies for the banking industry. The agency has asked the public to suggest what the government should do to facilitate the adoption of digital currencies.
Since the inception of the first digital currency in 2009, and after that over 1000 other cryptocurrencies. Only a paltry eight percent of Americans own any cryptocurrency. The OCC is aware of the fact that digital currencies were gaining popularity in the country.
Pundits have observed that the OCC has recently adopted a crypto-friendly attitude. This is especially following the appointment of David Brooks as acting comptroller. Before joining the OCC as Chief Operating Officer, Brooks served as general counsel for Coinbase. Brooks is also a close affiliate of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The close alliance between the two is likely the reason Treasury is seeking regulations for the digital currency industry.