US Regulators Plan to Define Legal Bank Activities Around Crypto in 2022

A group of U.S. bank regulators plans to announce how banks can interact with digital assets and what types of activities are legal in the coming year, according to a joint statement published Tuesday.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) summarized their policy sprint team’s work over 2021 in the statement, saying the group studied crypto custody, sale, loans and payment activities that banks and similarly regulated entities might want to take part in.

The interagency sprint team focused on creating a common vocabulary around digital assets, identifying possible risks to consumers and evaluating how regulations currently apply to digital assets, the document said.

Based on this preliminary and foundational staff-level work, the agencies have identified a number of areas where additional public clarity is warranted. As a result, the agencies have developed a crypto-asset roadmap that is summarized below, the document said.

Over the next year, the group plans to provide greater clarity on whether custody, purchase/sale, loan, stablecoin issuance and holding crypto assets are legally permissible for regulated institutions, and how banks should comply with laws if so.

The agencies also will evaluate the application of bank capital and liquidity standards to crypto assets for activities involving U.S. banking organizations and will continue to engage with the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision on its consultative process in this area, the document said.

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu revealed the sprint team in May during a Congressional hearing, saying at the time that the group could create a common definition of cryptocurrency for legal purposes in the U.S.

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