Banks Allowed to Use Stablecoins Alongside With SWIFT

  • The US financial authority allows national banks to directly connect with blockchains and use stablecoins.
  • Stablecoins are given the same status as traditional payment methods.
  • The OCC adheres to the decision as innovative, but timely.

The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) allowed to reshape the infrastructure of the United States financial system. The regulatory institution gave permission to the US banks to run nodes on public blockchains, issue their own stablecoins and use them as a payment method.

OCC is an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the largest regulator of national banks and financial institutions.

In a letter published on Monday, the regulator states that national banks and federal savings associations can run nodes on blockchains and use stablecoins.

As the document explains financial institutions can use the “independent node verification networks (INVNs) and stablecoins, to engage in and facilitate payment activities.”

This means stablecoins are accepted as the mechanism of payment, the same way as debit cards, checks, or other cashless payment instruments. Banks are now allowed to issue their own stablecoins and exchange them for fiat currencies.

The OCC accordingly obliged financial institutions participating in INVN to comply with the operational, compliance, and fraud risk prevention requirements.

On the flipside

  • Members of the US Congress introduced a STABLE Act in December 2020, claiming that stablecoin issuers can only be insured depository institutions.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned last year that little competition in stablecoins might lead to undermining weaker currencies and bring out the new form of “dollarization”.
  • European Central Bank (ECB) outlined stablecoin risks for monetary policy, referring to negative stablecoin interest rates.

On-time decision

The OCC adheres to the decision as innovative, but timely. As the document states, the economic conditions and customer needs are changing and financial institutions evolved enough for services to meet those needs:

The changing financial needs of the economy are well-illustrated by the increasing demand in the market for faster and more efficient payments through the use of decentralized technologies, such as INVNs, which validate and record financial transactions, including stablecoin transactions.

What does it mean to the industry?

The crypto industry welcomes the idea of the US banks contributing to the blockchain and supporting stablecoins. According to it, it is a major step forward to a faster, cheaper, and safer system of payments.

Blockchain Associations names the OCC decision as “the giant advance for crypto because it paves the way for these networks to be a formal part of the US financial infrastructure.”

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