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Comptroller of the Currency Seeks to End Sector-Based Discrimination from Banks

Many in the crypto industry lauded Brian Brooks, the latest Comptroller of the Currency, for his pro-crypto background and views. So far, he hasn’t disappointed. In his latest policy initiative, the regulator is pushing for a policy that would remove discrimination from banking services based on the sector.

An Open Financial System

On Friday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) published a policy proposal to curb banks’ ability to deny services to firms based on their sector. As the announcement explained, the initiative aims to stop the “creeping politicization of the banking industry,” ensuring that it can operate unencumbered.

The announcement pointed to agencies like Planned Parenthood, a nonprofit that provides reproductive healthcare services. It also highlighted oil and gas agencies in Alaska, many of whom have encountered banking services problems.

As Brooks noted in the announcement, every firm should get access to banking services, regardless of their political affiliations.

“Fair access to financial services, credit, and capital are essential to our economy. This proposed rule would ensure that banks meet their responsibility to provide their services fairly since they enjoy special privilege and powers because if the system fails to provide fairness to all, it cannot be a source of strength for any.”

Speaking with crypto news outlet Cointelegraph, Brooks confirmed that the rule change would apply to cryptocurrencies as well. The regulator pointed out that no provision in the Constitution outlaws digital assets.

However, he also noted that some parts of the country have licensing requirements for crypto companies to operate. In such instances, banks would merely have to check if the companies have the approvals to operate in their state. Once that has been ascertained, they can offer banking services.

Brooks is Good for Crypto 

While Brooks doesn’t seem to have crypto as his primary concern, there’s no doubt that digital assets have faced banking discrimination in the past. Most prominent is in India, with the Reserve Bank directing all commercial banks to cut ties with crypto firms in 2018.

The Supreme Court eventually overturned the decision earlier this year, although the victory didn’t come without the agency’s staunch opposition.

Even after the ban got lifted, sentiment in the country was low. The Economic Times reported in June that the Ministry of Finance was working on a more comprehensive ban, while crypto firms reportedly still had difficulties accessing banking services.

Brooks is looking to ensure that such a problem doesn’t happen in the United States. The Comptroller has so far been one of the stars of the crypto industry in Washington, speaking on digital assets’ significance every chance he gets. 

This month, he explained the growing popularity of cryptocurrencies and stablecoins in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.

However, Brooks’ pro-crypto stance has brought some criticism, especially on Capitol Hill. A recent letter from several Congresspeople criticized what was seen as “unilateral actions in the digital financial activities space,” especially concerning the prospect of crypto companies getting special-purpose banking charters.

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