The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has allowed federally regulated banks to use stablecoins to conduct payments.
According to an interpretive letter published on 4 January, national banks and federal savings associations can now participate in independent node verification networks (INVNs) and use stablecoins. Banks can utilize blockchain networks and stablecoins to perform all bank-permissible functions, including payment activities.
Aside from being able to complete customer payment transactions, banks can also buy, sell, and issue their own stablecoins to facilitate payments and serve as a node on a blockchain network.
The OCC said INVNs such as blockchain networks “may be more resilient than other payment networks” due to the large number of nodes required to verify transactions on the network. However, the Office warned that any banks participating in an INVN must be aware of the operational, compliance, and fraud risk associated with stablecoins.
The OCC’s letter was overseen by Brian Brooks, the Acting Comptroller of the Currency, who previously led Coinbase’s legal team.
During his tenure as the Comptroller, Brooks has spearheaded several initiatives to get banks and other financial institutions more involved in the crypto industry. In November 2020, he barred banks from cutting off services to companies in the crypto industries.
Last month, he announced his support for the U.S. President’s Working Group on Financial Markets and its proposed regulations for stablecoins.
The Blockchain Association, a major blockchain lobbyist group, said the letter effectively gives blockchain the same status as other global financial networks, such as SWIFT, ACH, and FedWire.