The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued Interpretive Letter 1174 on January 4, 2021, clarifying the authority of national banks and federal savings associations to buy, sell, and issue stablecoins and participate in independent node verification networks in order to conduct payment activities and other bank-permissible functions.
Continue Reading OCC Authorizes Banks to Leverage Cryptocurrency Payment Networks

Newly-proposed federal legislation would require all issuers of stablecoins and certain other digital asset companies to obtain a bank charter as a condition to operation. Referred to as the Stablecoin Tethering and Bank Licensing Enforcement Act, the draft legislation is intended to shift certain digital currency activities into the regulated banking framework.
Continue Reading New Legislation Proposes to Merge Crypto and Banking

Only a few states have issued guidance on the sales tax treatment of digital currency transactions. On November 2, 2020, Kansas joined this group, with Notice 20-04, Sales Tax Requirements Concerning Digital Currency Under the Retailers’ Sales and Compensating Tax Acts, issued by the Kansas Department of Revenue.
Continue Reading Kansas Issues Sales Tax Guidance on Digital Currency

The Wyoming Division of Banking issued a No-Action Letter in October 2020 in response to a request from a Wyoming-chartered public trust company seeking the Division of Banking’s position on the ability of the company to custody digital assets as well as hold itself out as a “qualified custodian.” The NAL prompted the Staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a public statement seeking public comment on matters concerning the definition of “qualified custodian” under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 and Rule 206(4)-2 thereunder.
Continue Reading SEC and Wyoming Division of Banking Address Custody of Digital Assets

PayPal released a press release on Wednesday, October 21, 2020, announcing the launch of a new cryptocurrency service that will enable its users to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrencies. The press release comes on the heels of the New York Department of Financial Services announcement that PayPal was granted the state’s first “conditional BitLicense.”
Continue Reading PayPal Pushes Crypto Further into the Mainstream

On Monday, October 19, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network announced a $60 million civil money penalty against Larry Dean Harmon, the founder, administrator and primary operator of unlicensed convertible virtual currency “mixers” for alleged violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and its implementing regulations.
Continue Reading FinCEN Issues $60M Fine for Convertible Virtual Currency BSA Violations

On October 8, 2020, the Department of Justice’s Cyber-Digital Task Force released an 83-page report entitled “Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework.” The DOJ report highlights many of the legal and enforcement risks posed in the burgeoning crypto marketplace, and includes various enforcement case studies as well as informative graphics.
Continue Reading DOJ Releases Cryptocurrency Enforcement Report

On Monday, September 21, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency issued an interpretive letter on the authority of national banks and federal savings associations to hold stablecoin reserves. That same day, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology issued a statement on the OCC’s interpretive letter. While not an official joint statement, the federal agencies were clearly aligned as FinHub’s statement on the OCC Interpretive Letter was posted on its website before the OCC published its letter.
Continue Reading OCC and SEC’s FinHub Issue Guidance on Stablecoins

In a recent speech entitled “Reinventing the Wheel (with More Automation)”, Andrew Bailey, Governor and chief executive of the Bank of England, discussed the future of digital currencies. According to Governor Bailey, we have reached the point in the cycle of innovation in payments where it is essential that we set the standards and thus the expectations for how innovation will take effect. It should not, in his opinion, happen the other way round, with the standard setting playing catch up.
Continue Reading Bank of England’s Governor Discusses Digital Currencies