National banks and federal savings associations are required to demonstrate they have "adequate controls in place" before accepting cryptocurrencies, blockchain networks, and stablecoins, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said in a recent note. According to the regulator, banks should not engage in the activity until they receive a non-objection from they supervisory office.
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"Today's letter reaffirms the primacy of safety and soundness. Providing this clarity will help ensure that these cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, and stablecoin activities will be conducted by national banks and federal savings associations in a safe and sound manner," said Acting Comptroller Hsu.
OCC's new cautious approach is completely different from the one when Brian Brooks was in charge of the regulator. In October last year, Brooks said that financial institutions in the long-term could become nodes on networks and mint their own stablecoins. Speaking at the DC Fintech Week, Brooks noted that banks could eventually connect to blockchain networks and function as nodes.
During his eight months as Acting Comptroller, Brooks pushed forward the US banking sector towards digitization, allowing US banks to hodl cryptocurrencies as a custodian and using stablecoins for wire.
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