The pioneer of Guard Anchorage is the first crypto company to see a charter from the U.S. national banking regulator.
By an announcement on Wednesday from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Anchorage will have conditional authorization to operate as a nationwide trust institution. The charter is the first of its kind, part of a “fintech charter” idea dating back to the Obama years, but which gained momentum under the leadership of Interim Controller Brian Brooks, formerly of the Coinbase legal team.
According to the announcement, maintaining the Anchorage Charter will depend on unique requirements:
“As a binding condition of approval, the company has entered into an operating agreement which sets out, among other things, the capital and liquidity requirements and the expectations of the OCC for risk management.
The current agreement between Anchorage and the OCC specifies a point that has been at the heart of the debate around the fintech charter; namely, that new cash from banks will not hold deposits: “The Bank will not engage in any activity which would make it a ‘bank’ within the meaning of Section 2 (c) of the Bank Holding Company Act. “
This is a controversial point. What is a bank? With the advent of online banking and particularly with the technological security provided by crypto, Brooks believes the future belongs to more tailor-made financial services. Narrower uses are more suited to individual needs, but still require national authorization, as he described earlier today.
In the same interview, Simone Naimi, CEO of Elliptic, asked Brooks when to expect the first such national charter for a crypto bank. Brooks checked his watch, in what at the time seemed like a joke.
So far such a registration has been done state by state, but only recently for crypto. Last summer, Wyoming licensed Kraken as the first crypto-native bank in the United States
Nonetheless, state regulators have expressed concern that the OCC’s push to charter non-depository institutions poses a threat to their authority.
An OCC representative declined to comment on whether to expect more crypto banking charters in Brooks’ final days as interim monitor.