US Regulators Clarify Banks’ Cryptocurrency Permissions

US Regulators Clarify Banks’ Cryptocurrency Permissions

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) today published a letter instructing banks and federal savings associations that they must demonstrate adequate controls prior to engaging in crypto-related activities.

“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 Michael J. Hsu, Acting Comptroller.

“Because many of these technologies and products present novel risks, banks must be able to demonstrate that they have appropriate risk management systems and controls in place to conduct them safely,” Hsu added.

The letter provides a degree of regulatory clarity for banks and federal savings associations insofar as they can refer to their relevant supervisory office to provide notice that they intend to carry out crypto-related activities.

In turn, the proposed activity can then be reviewed and, potentially, permission to carry out said activities can be granted.

The international view on cryptocurrency

The OCC’s letter strikes a similar tone to that of international regulators who have assessed the crypto industry as it pertains to banking.

IOSCO securities regulators and the Bank for International Settlements recently said in a report that stable coins must be subject to the same rules as traditional payments.

“This report marks significant progress in understanding the implications of stablecoin arrangements for the financial system and providing clear and practical guidance on the standards they need to maintain its integrity,” IOSCO chair Ashley Adler said in a statement.

The Bank for International Settlements also said this year that banks must set aside sufficient capital to cover any losses they may suffer over any crypto asset holdings.

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