U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will appoint Federal Reserve Associate Director Michael Hsu as the first deputy comptroller and acting comptroller of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a federal bank regulator in the U.S.
Hsu will succeed current Acting Comptroller Blake Paulson, who assumed the position after former Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks stepped down in January. At the Fed, Hsu was part of the supervision and regulation division, meaning he oversaw major banks.
“Mike has devoted his career to the stability and supervision of America’s banking system. He is among the most talented and principled regulatory officials that I have had the pleasure of working with, and I am confident he will execute this role with integrity and efficiency," Yellen said in a statement on Friday.
The OCC made waves during the past year under Brooks for publishing letters and other forms of guidance aimed at bringing the crypto industry into the U.S. financial system. The guidance included a confirmation that banks can provide services to crypto startups and stablecoin issuers as well as custody for digital assets.
Under Brooks, the OCC also granted the first crypto company a federal trust charter. Anchorage received a charter to form a federally regulated entity in January. Since then, two other companies – Protego and Paxos – have also earned OCC trust charters.
More attention on crypto
It's unclear how Hsu will approach the issue of digital assets, or whether he is U.S. President Joe Biden's pick for a full-term comptroller.
"My focus as Acting Comptroller will be on solving urgent problems and addressing pressing issues until the 32nd Comptroller is confirmed," Hsu said in a statement published by the OCC.
Other federal regulators, however, are beginning to get involved in the crypto industry. The Fed published a proposal to allow nontraditional chartered entities to access its accounts directly, rather than move through an intermediary bank.
While it's unclear whether that will benefit OCC-chartered crypto firms, crypto companies operating with a Wyoming Special Purpose Depository Institution may gain access, taking them one step closer to becoming a full bank.
In testimony on Thursday before the House Financial Services Committee, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler also suggested that Congress could create a federal regulator for crypto.
UPDATE (May 7, 2021, 15:41 UTC): Updated with a statement from the OCC.