The Office of the Comptroller acknowledges that financial institutions can be crypto custodians
The cryptocurrency industry is still new and its acceptance in the mainstream market is a work in progress. However, based on a recent public letter published by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), it seems that banks have the green light to provide crypto services to their clients. The OCC is an office within the US Department of Treasury that is charged with regulating the banks and thrifts institutions within the country.
“In the letter published today, the OCC concludes that providing cryptocurrency custody services, including holding the unique cryptographic keys associated with cryptocurrency, is a modern form of traditional bank activities related to custody services,” said the bureau in its announcement. “Crypto custody services may extend beyond passively holding ‘keys.’”
Nowadays, the custody of digital currencies like Bitcoin involve controlling the private keys associated with that specific crypto. Public keys are meant to be shared, because they are needed in order to receive Bitcoins – or any other digital currency – but the private keys should be protected and kept safe as much as possible.
Before this letter was released to the public, only those firms with special licenses were allowed to offer custody services for cryptocurrency to their clients. Now, this announcement suggests that any federally-regulated institution can provide those same services, too. “From safe-deposit boxes to virtual vaults, we must ensure banks can meet the financial services needs of their customers today,” said Brian P. Brooks, the acting comptroller of the currency in the announcement. “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.”