OCC provides crypto guidance as agencies announce roadmap

Federal regulators said they plan to provide greater regulatory clarity on crypto-related activities next year, with the OCC issuing an interpretive letter with guidance on digital assets.

Statement: The interagency statement summarizes the regulators’ “policy sprints” designed to begin laying the regulatory groundwork on crypto assets. It says the agencies plan to provide greater clarity “throughout 2022” on the legal permissibility and regulatory expectations related to crypto-related activities.

OCC Guidance: The OCC separately issued an interpretive letter that says national banks and federal savings associations must show they have adequate controls in place and receive supervisory consent before engaging in certain cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, and stablecoin activities.

Stablecoins: The OCC letter says banks should understand there may be different legal and compliance obligations for stablecoin activities. The Securities and Exchange Commission has said some stablecoins may qualify as securities, though case-by-case analysis is required.

Comment Letter: ICBA said in a comment letter earlier this year that a coordinated regulatory approach could help address risks, dispel confusion in the marketplace, and prompt more community banks to explore digital asset products and services to address customer needs.