On Tuesday, the acting Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Brian Brooks, testified before the Senate bringing forward several proposals on the cryptocurrency and the digital assets market. However, multiple congress members have come forward criticizing Brook’s unilateral decisions in the digital assets space, stating the former Coinbase executive is “too focused on crypto.”
In a speech before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Brooks highly praised the digital assets market and the importance of stablecoins. He praised the adoption rate of digital assets among Americans and the exponential growth of the cryptocurrency market, saying,
“These figures clearly illustrate that this payment mechanism is now firmly entrenched in the financial mainstream.
Cryptocurrency has become a popular mechanism for sending and receiving payments for goods and services because transactions post in real-time and provide convenience and security.”
Brooks is, however, facing a backlash from multiple members of Congress who view his crypto-related efforts as the head of OCC as “one-sided.” A letter signed by Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) and cosigned by Congressmen Stephen Lynch (MA-08) led a letter, which was cosigned by Reps. Jesús G. “Chuy” García (IL-04), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Barbara Lee (CA-13), and Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) blasted Brooks for his crypto-heavy leadership.
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The letter argues that Brooks’ stance on digital assets should not take precedence in millions of Americans’ lives while there is an ongoing global pandemic. The members wrote,
“Arguably, the immediate needs of millions of at-risk individuals who have not yet received an economic stimulus check and/or cannot deposit their funds in a bank deserve greater attention than an effort to increase access to financial services to the ‘banked community’ via mobile phones.”
They further questioned his unilateral actions in the digital asset space, including “interpretive letters on cryptocurrency custody, stablecoins, and announced plans to start offering special purpose ‘payments’ charters.” Furthermore, they criticized Brooks’ plan to offer huge corporations such as Amazon and Facebook payment charters, claiming it would increase systemic risks, which could “expose the financial system to significant vulnerabilities.” The lawmakers wrote.
“Our concern regarding the OCC’s excessive focus on crypto assets and crypto-related financial services is shared by the American Bankers Association and other trade groups who have expressed similar reservations that such services move too far away from the core business of banking.”