Joe Biden to appoint former Ripple advisor as OCC head – report

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to nominate former Ripple advisor Michael Barr to head the OCC.
Barr could continue the crypto-friendly policies from resigned head Brian Brooks.

After Brian Brooks resigned from the post of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) about a week ago, the first rumors about his successor have already started. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Michael Barr, a former Treasury official, could take over as head of federal banking supervision.

Like his predecessor, Barr would bring experience with cryptocurrencies to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a U.S. Treasury Department office that regulates the nation’s banks and credit unions. Under Brooks, the OCC issued a series of regulatory guidelines addressing how national banks can interact with the crypto space.

Among other things, under Coinbase’s former chief legal officer, the OCC clarified that all licensed banks in the U.S. may offer custody services for cryptocurrencies. However, Brooks faced some criticism from a handful of congressional Democrats who faulted his crypto focus in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nonetheless, the news was received positively by the crypto community. It expects Barr to continue the OCC’s crypto-friendly policies. The OCC, in a milestone development for the industry, had just last week granted conditional approval to crypto custodian Anchorage to create the country’s first federally chartered digital asset bank.

The potential OCC head was an advisor to Ripple Labs

Barr is currently a dean at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy and was part of the Barack Obama administration’s Treasury Department, where he worked on banking regulation related to the Dodd-Frank Act. Additionally, Barr joined Ripple Labs’ Board of Advisors in 2015, though it is unclear if or when he left that position.

In a press release issued in July 2015, Barr stated of his tenure at Ripple Labs:

I’m excited to be joining the Advisory Board of Ripple Labs. Our global payments system is badly outdated. I think innovation in payments can help make the financial system safer, reduce cost, and improve access and efficiency for consumers and businesses alike.

Ripple Labs is currently facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The U.S. agency sued Ripple over the unregistered sale of XRP as a security.

Although the OCC cannot influence the proceedings in this regard, Brooks advocated the use of private payment technologies to modernize the outdated banking system prior to his departure. In light of Payments Charter 2.0, some community members interpreted the statement as a plea for Ripple’s technologies.

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