OCC Clarifies Bank Authority to Hold Stablecoin Reserves Following Guidance on Custody of Digital Assets

24 September 2020
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Key takeaways:
  • On Monday, September 21, 2020, the OCC’s Chief Counsel published an interpretive letter confirming the authority of national banks and federal savings associations (together, “banks”) to hold deposit “reserves” on behalf of customers that issue certain types of stablecoins.
  • This guidance follows an earlier interpretive letter published by the Chief Counsel confirming the authority of banks to provide cryptocurrency (including stablecoin) custody services for customers.
  • The letters indicate the OCC’s view that, under specified conditions, a bank may engage in core banking activities—deposit taking and custody—with digital assets and digital asset businesses in a safe and sound way. The most recent letter also is a further indication of the willingness of the current OCC leadership to address cryptocurrency and other innovation issues.