The Acting-Comptroller Of The Currency Shows His Crypto Roots
Last week, as the world debated President Trump’s photo-op on the steps of St. John Episcopal Church, a mile away the Comptroller of the Currency’s office was quietly proposing potentially sweeping changes in banking regulations — with a specific emphasis on blockchain.
The new Comptroller, Brian Brooks, had just become the new top banking regulator for the Trump administration. His last job? General counsel to crypto powerhouse Coinbase. Brooks, as acting-Comptroller, makes it clear: blockchain is not the problem — he thinks blockchain is the solution to our problems.
“Blockchain has potential to connect up, in a decentralized network, all kinds of data,” says Brooks. “It has the ability to create large, friction-free, decentralized networks of people. There is huge and great promise in blockchain and crypto.”
Brooks, 51, talked with Forbes at length about his views on crypto currencies, regulation and technology. Interestingly, he’s looking for decentralized networks in general — he cited Bitcoin, Ether and XRP in particular — to solve many of the problems hindering more than one-thousand financial institutions under his purview.
In his June 2 “proposed rulemaking,” Brooks targeted a re-write of existing regulations on “bank digital activities.” The request for comment, signed by Brooks, asks how artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies could be incorporated into strictly-regulated banking operations.
Brooks is especially concerned about the antiquated methods banks use to transfer money. “It takes three days if you’re trying to send money from the US to Europe… on the SWIFT network,” says Brooks. “Your money is at risk during that period. And even when the money is transmitted, foreign exchange fees are incurred. But a digital representation of value on both sides of the transaction can eliminate that friction and those costs.”
Other countries are focused on modernizing payments and Brooks sees that as a threat to the United States. He takes a shot at the slow-moving Federal Reserve. “The U.S. has lagged behind the U.K. and other counties in terms of faster payments,” says Brooks. “It took the Fed ten years to get where they are with the Fed’s version of faster payments — versus blockchain, which is instantaneous and immutable.”
He’s right: years ago the European Union, for example, created an instant payment settlement system called TIPS which the U.S. has yet to match. Brooks points out that MastercardMA and VisaV are independently exploring the use of stablecoins to…