The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has clarified that national banks and federal savings associations can provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers. The OCC sees banks providing crypto custody services as “a modern form of traditional bank activities related to custody services.”
Banks Authorized to Offer Crypto Custody Services
The OCC announced Wednesday that it has published “a letter clarifying national banks’ and federal savings associations’ authority to provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers.” An independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the OCC charters, regulates and supervises all national banks and federal savings associations as well as federal branches and agencies of foreign banks — altogether there are currently 1,175 entities.
The announcement details: “National and state banks and thrifts have long provided safekeeping and custody services, including both physical objects and electronic assets. The OCC has specifically recognized the importance of digital assets and the authority for banks to provide safekeeping for such assets since 1998.” The letter reads:
The OCC concludes that providing cryptocurrency custody services, including holding unique cryptographic keys associated with cryptocurrency, is a modern form of traditional bank activities related to custody services. Crypto custody services may extend beyond passively holding ‘keys.’
Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks emphasized: “This opinion clarifies that banks can continue satisfying their customers’ needs for safeguarding their most valuable assets, which today for tens of millions of Americans includes cryptocurrency.” Brooks took office in June. Prior to joining the OCC, he served as the chief legal officer for crypto exchange Coinbase. Believing that “There is huge and great promise in blockchain and crypto,” Brooks aims to solve banks’ problems with decentralization, as news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.
The letter explains that this clarification “also reaffirms the OCC’s position that national banks may provide permissible banking services to any lawful business they choose, including cryptocurrency businesses, so long as they effectively manage the risks and comply with applicable law.”
The crypto community welcomes the OCC’s decision, viewing it as a highly bullish move. “The OCC letter is a positive development for the entire crypto industry,” Nathan McCauley, CEO of crypto custodian service provider Anchorage, was quoted by Forbes as saying. “A lack of regulatory clarity has been a big roadblock to more institutional activity in crypto, and major pronouncements like this help move the needle.” Nonetheless, he added that “Digital asset custody presents more than regulatory challenges.” Gabor Gurbacs, director of Digital Assets Strategy at Vaneck and MVIS, commented on Twitter:
That’s a great step forward toward better institutional support for bitcoin.
What do you think about the OCC green-lighting banks for crypto custody services? Let us know in the comments section below.
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