New Comptroller of the Currency announced: Will he be as good for crypto?

The head of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Brian P. Brooks has officially announced that he is stepping down on January 14, 2021.

In a statement dated January 13, the organization said that Chief Operating Officer Blake Paulson will become Acting Comptroller of the Currency, replacing Brooks who has served for eight months.

The outgoing chief Brooks, formerly head of legal at Coinbase, has been a breath of fresh air with his forward looking approach. On January 12, he suggested that DeFi can root out bias and fraud in traditional banking, and that regulations need to be reconfigured for an age of algorithms.

Following several years of regulatory uncertainty the agency, which falls under the scope of the U.S. Treasury, recently made moves to allow banks to use independent blockchain nodes and stablecoins.

The announcement acknowledged these achievements adding that Brooks had helped ensure the “federal banking system could evolve to meet the changing demands of consumers and markets by clarifying bank and thrift authorities regarding certain activities related to crypto assets.”

Outgoing President Donald Trump formally nominated Brooks for a full five-year term in November, but resistance came from the Democrats who believed President-elect Joe Biden should oversee the selection.

Brooks, a former Coinbase executive, said he was leaving the OCC in capable hands. His replacement, Paulson, is a career bank examiner and has served as Chief Operating Officer for the agency since June 2020. Prior to his role at the agency, Paulson was responsible for supervising around 1,100 national banks and federal savings associations so he is in essence a veteran traditional banker.

It is unclear how Paulson will approach crypto assets, but Democratic members of the U.S. Congress have previously criticized Brooks for putting too much emphasis on moves towards digital banking services and not enough focus on Covid-19 relief.

The OCC supervises nearly 1,200 national banks, federal savings associations, federal branches, and agencies of foreign banks, that between them conduct approximately 70% of all banking business in the U.S.

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