OCC Seeks Public Comment For Possible U.S. Crypto Regulations

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The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the U.S. national bank regulator for financial institutions such as Wells Fargo
WFC
and JPMorgan Chase
JPM
, issued an ‘Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking’ (ANPR) today that requests comments from the public by August 2, 2020. The Notice is titled the ‘National Bank and Federal Savings Association Digital Activities’.

According to a press release, the OCC wants public input about how cryptocurrencies and distributed ledger technology are used in banking, among other items.

OccOCC Requests Comment on Proposal to Update Activities and Operations Rules and its Rules on Digital Activities

For crypto, the OCC is interested in, “activities related to cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets that financial services companies or bank customers are engaged in and what the barriers or obstacles to further adoption of crypto-related activities are in the banking industry.” Regarding blockchain, the press release notes a request to learn, “how is distributed ledger technology used or potentially used in activities related to banking”.

The ANPR is an option for U.S. regulators in the rulemaking process, where a Notice for Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) usually describes the promulgation of a specific rule or regulation that it asks for public comment on before doing so. For those in the crypto and blockchain industry that want to comment, the ANPR is attached at the end of this story and the beginning of the notice describes ways you can publicly comment to the OCC.

Crypto And Blockchain Questions

The OCC Notice describes an increase in adoption of crypto by Americans as well, stating, “The first cryptocurrency was created in 2009; there are now over 1,000 rival cryptocurrencies, and approximately eight percent of Americans own cryptocurrency.” Additionally, the OCC comments on innovations from PayPal
PYPL
in 1998 to the proliferation of mobile banking, noting, “49 percent of Americans bank on their phones and 85 percent of American millennials use mobile banking.”

For blockchain and other technologies, the , “…artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, biometrics, cloud computing, big data and data analytics, and distributed ledger and blockchain technology are used commonly or are emerging in the banking sector.”

The questions on cryptocurrencies asked are, “What types of activities related to cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets 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?”

For distributed ledger technology, the questions in the Notice are, “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?”

Acting Comptroller Of The Currency Brian Brooks

Recently, Brian Brooks, the former General Counsel of Coinbase, moved from his role as the Chief Operating Officer of the OCC to the Acting Comptroller, meaning he is currently leading the U.S. federal agency responsible for the largest banks in the U.S. A few weeks ago, Brooks described the idea of a new national charter to be issued by the OCC for payment firms such as Stripe and PayPal. Having previously worked with Secretary Mnuchin in the private sector, it’s possible as crypto and blockchain among other technologies advance that the Treasury Secretary will lean on Brooks to provide leadership for crypto regulations in the U.S.

MORE FROM FORBESOCC Floats New Payments Charter For Stripe, PayPal, And Crypto Firms

The full ANPR by Acting Comptroller Brooks is below, along with instructions on how to comment.

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