The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), an independent bureau within the United States Department of the Treasury, has given the green light for U.S. national banks and federal savings associations to keep cryptographic wallet keys. The official announcement states that banks can provide more secure custody solutions than those available on the market, reports The Block.
The letter draws attention to existing OCC guidance, outlining “that banks may hold a wide variety of assets as custodians, including assets that are unique and hard to value. These custody activities often include assets that transfer electronically.”
Going further, the OCC notes: “Providing custody services for cryptocurrency falls within these longstanding authorities to engage in safekeeping and custody activities. As discussed below, this is a permissible form of a traditional banking activity that national banks are authorized to perform via electronic means. Providing such services is permissible in both non-fiduciary and fiduciary capacities. A bank that provides custody for cryptocurrency in a non-fiduciary capacity would essentially provide safekeeping for the cryptographic key that allows for control and transfer of the customer’s cryptocurrency.”
Brian Brooks, Acting Comptroller and former chief legal officer for crypto exchange Coinbase said in a statement that every entity, offering custodial services, should develop and implement proper internal mechanisms. He remarked “the 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.”