Professor Gerard Comizio Examines Biden Administration’s Proposed Crypto Regulations

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On October 13, 2021, the American Banker, a leading national publication covering U.S. and international financial industry featured an article titled “Is modernizing the National Bank Act the answer to fintech charter woes?” that included an interview with Professor Gerard Comizio, associate director of the American University Business Law Program, and other financial regulatory experts. The article examined the recent conclusions of the Biden administration’s Presidential Working Group ‘s proposal that the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the primary national bank regulator, adopt regulations and policies that would require stablecoin, a type of bitcoin backed by U.S. dollars, to be issued only through a new special purpose national bank charter that would be regulated by the OCC.

Professor Comizio opined that these proposed actions by the OCC would likely have to overcome significant legal challenges, commenting that the actions would require “a change in the banking laws, and that raises fundamental questions.” He noted that, among the legal issues that would be presented would be the ability of the OCC, absent clear and specific statutory authority, to adopt a non-bank bitcoin charter, noting current litigation by state regulators challenging the authority of the OCC to adopt a non-bank fintech charter.

He also commented on the Presidential Working Group’s e recommendation reportedly calling for legislation to create a new OCC charter tailored to crypto firms, noting that it “seems to pre-suppose that the OCC would become the federal regulator in the driver’s seat on virtual currency regulation," said Professor Comizio.

And while experts varied on their outlooks on the likelihood of new legislation, Professor Comizio noted that, to increase the prospects of both effective and reasonable regulation “[it is] in everyone’s interest to get in front of legislation that takes in both the industry’s view and the regulators’ view to get to a balanced approach for all parties,” since “no current federal financial services law was written with bitcoin in mind.”