Fresh OCC ‘Fintech Office’ Tasked With Keeping Up With Crypto

The OCC, which has been floated as the potential stablecoin regulator, now has an office for studying crypto developments


Mark Van Scyoc/Shutterstock, modified by Blockworks


The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has established a new fintech office to adapt to technological evolutions in banking, including crypto assets.

The Treasury said the office will add to its knowledge of digital assets, fintech partnerships and other emerging technology models that have an impact on OCC-supervised banks. It will also contribute to oversight of partnerships between traditional institutions and fintech firms.

Prashant Bhardwaj, who has worked in several roles across the financial sector for 30 years, has been appointed the new fintech office’s deputy comptroller and chief financial technology officer. His tenure begins April 10.

“To ensure that the federal banking system is safe, sound, and fair today and well into the future, we need to have a deep understanding of financial technology and the financial technology landscape,” Michael Hsu, acting comptroller of the currency, said in a statement

The OCC is a department under the Treasury in charge of executing laws relevant to national banks. Some of its powers include supervisory actions against banks, removal of bank directors and rejecting applications for new bank branches.

Hsu has previously urged the crypto industry to introduce stablecoin standards in the same vein as the World Wide Web Consortium and Internet Engineering Task Force’s approaches to guiding internet development.

In December, the OCC reiterated its stance on taking a cautious approach to crypto, pointing to various events that roiled digital asset markets in 2022. 

One year earlier, Hsu had issued a reminder to federal savings associations and national banks to not participate in “certain cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, and stablecoin activities” without a non-objection notice from their regulatory supervisors.

“The events of this year in the crypto industry have revealed a high degree of interconnectedness between certain crypto participants through a variety of opaque lending and investing arrangements,” the agency said in a semi-annual Risk Perspective report.

Just before his recent retirement, Senator Pat Toomey pushed legislation that would see the OCC gain direct oversight of stablecoin issuers by way of a specialized licensing charter.

The agency was among three powerful US financial regulators to express skepticism over financial institutions holding crypto assets in January. Along with the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the OCC warned that risks associated with crypto should not spill over into the banking system. 

“Based on the agencies’ current understanding and experience to date, the agencies believe that issuing or holding as principal crypto-assets that are issued, stored, or transferred on an open, public, and/or decentralized network, or similar system is highly likely to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices,” the agency said.

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.

The Lightspeed newsletter is all things Solana, in your inbox, every day. Subscribe to daily Solana news from Jack Kubinec and Jeff Albus.


Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

MON - TUES, OCT. 7 - 8, 2023

Blockworks and Bankless in collaboration with buidlbox are excited to announce the second installment of the Permissionless Hackathon – taking place October 7-8 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ve partnered with buidlbox to bring together the brightest minds in crypto for […]

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research

Research Report Cover Vertex.jpg


The proliferation of new perp DEXs has led to fragmented liquidity across various DEXs and chains. Vertex, known for its vertically-integrated DEX that includes spot, perpetual, and integrated money markets, is now tackling cross-chain liquidity fragmentation through horizontal integration with the launch of new Edge instances. Vertex's integrated offerings and cross-margined account structure amplify the benefits of new instances: native cross-chain spot trading, optimized cross-chain basis trading, consistent interest rates, reduced bridging friction, and more.


Partnering with EtherFi and Angle, the fully on-chain perp DEX features bespoke collateral



Gavin Wood introduced the next evolutionary step for the Polkadot network: the Join-Accumulate Machine, or JAM


The side events were the places to be at Consensus 2024, according to attendees


Also, who’s come out swinging in the spot ether ETF fee war — and who could undercut them


I know it is not in their nature, but US regulators could learn a lot by researching the digital asset frameworks that overseas regulators have already gotten right


Also, the ETF hype train can count out at least one member