Michael J. Hsu, the Acting Comptroller of the OCC, said in a statement that the agency will review past crypto guidelines issued by the agency.
The United States Office of the Comptroller of Currency, which oversees the operations of banks in the nation, will be reviewing its crypto guidelines. Newly appointed Acting Comptroller Michael J. Hsu said in a statement on May 19 indicating thus, and it appears that the agency could take a tougher stance.
Hsu was made Acting Comptroller only a few weeks ago, and there was some speculation as to what position the agency may take with its new head. With the new statement, it has become clear that it could go either way, with Hsu saying that the OCC would review guidance from the past year. Former Acting Controller Brian Brooks said that the agency was not focused on “killing Bitcoin.”
This review will not necessarily take a negative turn, however. As Hsu noted in his statement,
“At the OCC, the focus has been on encouraging responsible innovation…we created an Office of Innovation, updated the framework for chartering national banks and trust companies, and interpreted crypto custody services as part of the business of banking. I have asked staff to review these actions.”
A review doesn’t necessarily mean a reversal of policies. It could also be that the OCC is preparing more comprehensive regulations that support the industry, while also offering protection, checks, and balances.
Later on in the statement, Hsu reveals that past initiatives were not part of a broader strategy, which is something the agency will look into. He also admits that fintech services and platforms will be a part of the economy, but that they must fit into the overall regulatory landscape.
Will the US be crypto-friendly?
Generally speaking, the U.S. government has been ambivalent about its position on crypto. Various governmental agencies and figures across all levels of the hierarchy have made conflicting statements regarding the potential of crypto.
At the highest level, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has made critical remarks about crypto, though, on a few occasions, she has admitted the value in the technology.
Former SEC and CFTC officials have also been open to cryptocurrencies, but not without some caveats. One of these, ex-CFTC Chairman Christopher Giancarlo, has launched a digital dollar project which recently began running pilots.
Most importantly, however, current SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has said that the agency would operate with input from the U.S. Treasury. Gensler himself is an advocate of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, but so far, there has been no indication of more lax regulation.