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Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu, who was appointed earlier this month by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, is making a name for himself.
Hsu also requested a review of several recent activities by the regulator, including measures that granted it authority to issue banking licences to cryptocurrency custody firms.
“My broader concern is that these initiatives were not done in full coordination with all stakeholders,” Hsu wrote in prepared remarks to the House Committee on Financial Services. “Nor do they appear to have been part of a broader strategy related to the regulatory perimeter. I believe addressing both of these tasks should be a priority.”
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The Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) oversees national banks and credit unions. The OCC took a distinctly pro-crypto stance under former Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks, a former Coinbase executive and new CEO of rival exchange Binance.
The OCC released guidelines in January stating that banks may issue their own stablecoins, digital assets designed to imitate the price of another currency (e.g., the US dollar), and depend on blockchains for payment activities.
Brooks’ OCC had previously released a national FinTech banking charter that allowed crypto firms to sell lending products.
Brooks’ leadership, however, irritated some lawmakers. Brooks was accused of having a “excessive focus on crypto assets and crypto related financial services.” by a coalition of Democratic leaders in late 2020.
Following the 2020 presidency, Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters wrote to then-President-elect Joe Biden, pleading for him to reverse the OCC’s advice.
“Your appointed officials at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) must also not assume, as their predecessors have, that a law Congress passed over 150 years ago somehow gives them authority to provide a national bank charter to non-bank fintech or payment companies,” she wrote.
Hsu would testify about depository institution regulatory control on Wednesday, alongside the chairs of the National Credit Union Administration and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as well as the Vice Chairman of Supervision for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors.