The head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has called for a balanced approach to regulation governing financial technology development in the United States, citing bitcoin as one such example.
Months after calling digital currencies “potentially revolutionary”, OCC Comptroller Thomas Curry highlighted bitcoin during a recent speech as he called for regulators to avoid crafting overly burdensome rules that could stifle otherwise productive work on financial technology.
“As the industry continues to innovate, it’s important that regulators strike the right balance between encouraging responsible innovation and managing risk. Virtual currency, like bitcoin provides a good example.”
Curry said the agency has put together a working group that will “develop a framework to evaluate new and innovative financial products and services”.
“We have a team with representatives from across the agency – policy experts, examiners, lawyers, and others – considering this question,” he said. “We’re still early in the process, so I can’t tell you exactly where we’ll end up.”
Curry added one result could be the creation of an office dedicated to financial innovation.
Moving away from the banking sector
Notably, Curry acknowledged during his speech that financial technology is largely being developed outside regulated entities like banks.
“There are a number of reasons why that’s so, but the one that’s of most concern to me is the perception that it’s too difficult to get new ideas through the regulatory approval process.”
The working group, he said, was launched “to address that perception – and any reality that might lie behind it”. He also called on regulators to “view new ideas with an open mind and not dismiss them as either sorcery or voodoo”.
Curry noted in his speech that he sees a “transformation” continuing to take place outside the banking sector that could lead to new products and services, particularly those geared toward the underbanked.
“I’m betting that much of that transformation will take place inside the traditional banking system, and I want the OCC to be ready to deal with it,” he said.
The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.