Brooks: OCC Continuing Effort to Clarify Regulatory Treatment of Stablecoins

The OCC is continuing its efforts, working with other agencies, to facilitate banks’ ability to engage with digital currencies, Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks said during a press event this morning. “The OCC along with our interagency partners have been focused on creating more clarity around the regulatory framework for digital currencies,” he said, adding that the agency has “begun discussions about stablecoins, which is a form of digital dollar, and the role that they may play in the U.S. payments system going forward.”

“Stablecoins remain an ongoing subject of discussion in connection with central bank digital currencies or as an alternative to central bank digital currencies,” Brooks added. “We hope to provide clarity about the role national banks should play in that aspect of the payments system going forward.” Brooks noted the compliance and law enforcement-related risks associated with digital currencies but said that “on balance our belief is that that the future of decentralization will have an impact on the banking system, and we want to be on the front of that.”

Earlier this year, the OCC issued a pair of interpretive letters giving national banks and federal thrifts the green light to provide cryptocurrency custody services for their customers and to hold deposits that serve as reserves for stablecoins. “That’s a space that has long been the province of small startups and companies that lack the size, scale and resources of a national bank in safeguarding those kind of assets,” Brooks said.