US senators want OCC to clarify its digital currency rulemaking

The U.S. Senate’s Banking Committee is seeking clarity from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regarding its proposed digital currency payments rulemaking process. In a recent letter, the Committee’s chairman urged the OCC to formulate enabling regulations as digital currencies are ‘inevitable and beneficial.’

The September 1 letter by Sen. Mike Crapo called on Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks to provide an update on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR). The OCC issued the ANPR on June 4, inviting public feedback on recent policies governing the banking and finance industry. Some of the issues it invited feedback on were the use of distributed ledger technologies in banking, digital currency payments, use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in payments, among others.

The public feedback period ended on August 3.

Now, the Banking Committee is seeking to know what the OCC gathered from public feedback and what steps it intends on taking regarding DLT and digital currencies.

Sen. Crapo urged the OCC to formulate enabling regulations stating: “These (digital currencies) and similar innovations are inevitable, beneficial and the U.S. should lead in their development.”

The OCC published a charter in August that allowed companies dealing in digital assets to apply for a single national license, as opposed to applying for a license in each individual state. A few months prior, the banking regulator had published a letter clarifying that banks could provide digital asset custody.

Sen. Crapo acknowledged these positive developments by the OCC, but urged the regulator to issue such directives for digital currency payments.

He stated: “It would be prudent to provide similar clarity for payments. The U.S. should develop clear rules of the road that protect businesses and consumers without stifling future innovation.”

Sen. Crapo has continued to call for regulations for the digital currencies industry. In a Banking Committee hearing in 2019, he stressed, “It seems to me that digital technology innovations are inevitable, could be beneficial, and I believe that the U.S. should lead in developing these innovations and what the rules of the road should be.”

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