An online future for finance is inevitable, says OCC’s Brooks

The departing leader of the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is convinced that the future of finance is blockchain-native, per a conversation with crypto analytics firm Elliptic on Wednesday.

Described by Elliptic CEO Simone Maini as “a fairy godfather to the crypto industry,” Brian Brooks has been a leading light in U.S. federal policy toward crypto since taking over for Comptroller Joseph Otting in May 2020. Today, he outlined views that follow an opinion piece he wrote for the Financial Times yesterday.

Namely, Brooks took the opportunity to promote his vision of an OCC that checks algorithms rather than bankers for responsible behavior: “Imagine a world where we’re granting charters to softwares as opposed to individuals.”

The vision falls in line with Brooks’ overall work to push forward a national charter for non-depository financial institutions, which detractors have called a “nonbank charter.” In broader terms, the acting comptroller saw the technological change that he is trying to prepare laws for as inevitable:

“My thesis is that it is inevitable that the future of finance will go on the internet like information did 25 years ago, and we need to prepare banks for that world and we need to prepare banking charters for that world.”

Describing recent political deplatforming from social media and payments processors as “chilling,” Brooks went on to argue that: 

“Crypto is about freedom. There is no CEO to deplatform. If you didn’t believe freedom mattered last week, you should believe it matters today.”

However, Brooks confirmed what has long been suspected: His time at the OCC will end with the incoming Biden administration. “There will be another comptroller and it won’t be me,” he said.

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