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OCC Says Federally Chartered Banks And Thrifts To Provide Crypto-custody Services

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The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has clarified in a letter that federally chartered banks and thrifts can begin offering cryptocurrency custody services for customers.

The OCC is a federal agency that oversees the execution of laws relating to national banks. It charters, regulates, and supervises national banks and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the U.S.

"This opinion clarifies that banks can continue satisfying their customers' needs for safeguarding their most valuable assets, which today for tens of millions of Americans includes cryptocurrency," said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks.

With banks and financial institutions increasingly getting digitized, the OCC recognizes that there will be an increasing need for banks and other service providers to leverage new technology and innovative ways to serve their customers' needs.

This move by the OCC will enable banks and financial institutions to service the needs of these tens of millions of Americans by fulfilling their financial intermediation function they have historically played in providing payment, lending, and deposit services.

This clarification by the OCC will apply to national banks and federal savings associations of all sizes and is consistent with a number of states which have already authorized state banks or trust companies to provide similar functions.

The OCC has specifically recognized the importance of digital assets and the authority for banks to provide safekeeping for such assets since 1998.

The OCC notes that providing cryptocurrency custody services, including holding unique cryptographic keys associated with cryptocurrency, is a modern form of traditional bank activity related to custody services.

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