Imagine your cash and cryptocurrency being stored together in your Bank of America or Wells Fargo account, digitally. According to a letter released this week by the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), national banks can do just that.
The letter, which was written in response to an anonymous request for clarification, explains that banks and regulated financial institutions can safeguard cryptocurrencies, including the unique cryptographic keys associated with them. While the OCC says this is not a change in policy, because banks have held digital assets on behalf of their clients since the 1980s, it's the first time regulators have provided clear guidance specific to cryptocurrencies.
"From safe-deposit boxes to virtual vaults, we must ensure banks can meet the financial services needs of their customers today," said Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks in the letter. "This opinion clarifies that banks can continue satisfying their customers' needs for safeguarding their most valuable assets, which today for tens of millions of Americans includes cryptocurrency."
Banks can now advance into the cryptocurrency realm to meet the growing needs of their clients, all with the OCC's blessing. But will they take the bait?
Storing cryptocurrencies is a complicated and highly technical process, especially on a large scale. Crypto custodians like Fidelity Digital Assets and Gemini have spent years building institutional-grade security systems to hold crypto assets, with multiple safeguards. The complexities of building a full-fledged digital custody system may discourage traditional asset managers from entering the space.
Either way, the announcement is a step in the right direction and will likely encourage both institutional and retail investors to gain exposure to the cryptocurrency market. In a statement from Gemini, the company agrees that the news is positive for the industry.
“Today’s forward thinking announcement by the OCC validates Gemini’s long standing approach to custody. Gemini has built an institutional-grade custody solution to address the unique challenges of storing digital assets, that’s regulated by the NYDFS, and serves many institutional partners. A regulated solution provides the best option for the safety and security of clients' crypto assets,” said Noah Perlman, Chief Compliance Officer, Gemini.
Woz Sues YouTube
Steve Wozniak is suing YouTube for allowing scammers to use his name in fraudulent Bitcoin giveaways.
According to the lawsuit, Wozniak impersonators asked viewers to send Bitcoin to random wallet addresses with the promise of him sending back double the amount.
“YouTube has featured a steady stream of scam videos and promotions that falsely use images and videos of Plaintiff Steve Wozniak, and other famous tech entrepreneurs, and that have defrauded YouTube users out of millions of dollars,” the complaint reads.
The lawsuit demands YouTube to remove the videos and end the ongoing scams, which they claim have caused irreparable harm to Wozniak’s reputation.
“Among other relief, Plaintiffs seek an order requiring YouTube to finally end its outrageous practice of hosting, promoting, and profiting from these criminally fraudulent videos and promotions.”
Wozniak admitted to selling Bitcoin at its peak in 2019 and is a Co-founder of blockchain-focused venture capital fund, EQUI Global.
According to the media, Bitcoin has died 381 times over the last decade. Check out all of Bitcoin’s “obituaries” on 99Bitcoins.
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