The payments landscape for community banks is changing rapidly as traditional payments converge with new instant payment systems and emerging cryptocurrencies. It is critical for Community Banks to maintain awareness of developments in the payments space to assess new opportunities, mitigate risks, and ensure that their payment strategy aligns with overall business plans.

Payments News

Treasury crypto sanctions portend broad regulatory response

Financial regulators on Tuesday began cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges and laid out significant concerns with digital assets.

Sanctions: The Treasury Department announced the first-ever sanctions on a crypto exchange—Russia-based SUEX—as part of a government-wide effort to combat ransomware attacks. Treasury said over 40% of SUEX’s known transaction history is associated with illicit actors.

Ransomware: More broadly, Treasury said virtual currency exchanges are critical to the profitability of ransomware attacks and that it will continue targeting these entities to reduce incentives for cybercriminals.

OCC’s Hsu: Also Tuesday, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu revealed deep skepticism of digital asset innovations in remarks to the Blockchain Association. Among his remarks, Hsu said:

  • The cryptocurrency and decentralized finance sector is replete with scams, innovations that do little more than increase trading, and few solutions for the real economy.
  • Some of those who will be hurt in the crypto space are the least likely to be able to afford it.
  • Stablecoins and other crypto instruments pose systemic risks.
  • Financial innovation should be anchored in purpose.

Background: Recent ICBA blog posts detail growing stablecoin risks to consumers and the financial system, how policymakers are responding, and what DeFi means for community banks.