Anchorage Seeks Charter From Crypto-Friendly US Bank Regulator OCC

The cryptocurrency and banking worlds continue to draw closer together with digital asset custodian Anchorage seeking a national charter from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

The startup’s trust company unit, based in South Dakota, has applied to the OCC to convert to a national bank, according to a notice dated Nov. 9 and posted to the federal regulator’s website.

This year Kraken, a crypto exchange, became the first such business to obtain a U.S. banking license, albeit a special-purpose one from Wyoming (the same kind obtained by digital asset startup Avanti). If its application is approved, Anchorage would be the first crypto company to get a national bank charter, explicitly allowing it to do business in all 50 states.

Anchorage’s application also comes at a time when the OCC, an agency that has existed since the Civil War, may be unusually receptive to such requests. Brian Brooks, the acting comptroller since May, is a former chief legal officer for the Coinbase exchange and has been notably focused on clearing the way for banks to participate in the crypto market – so much so that he was recently criticized by lawmakers for spending so much time on this niche during a pandemic.

“Anchorage is encouraged by the recent positive progress out of the OCC with respect to regulatory clarity around custody of digital assets,” Nathan McCauley, Anchorage’s co-founder and CEO, said in a Telegram message. “We are interested in obtaining an OCC charter as a way to better serve the emerging needs of large banks looking to integrate crypto to bring the benefits of Bitcoin and other digital assets to their client base.”

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