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Cryptocurrency custody

Ten things to consider about OCC guidelines on digital asset custody

In its Interpretive Letter #1170 issued on July 22, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a legal interpretation affirming that federally chartered banks and thrifts (collectively “national banks”) may now provide cryptocustodial services for crypto assets. For national banks, and for state chartered banks in jurisdictions aligning with the OCC interpretation, this guidance holds out the promise of a great opportunity to generate new revenue streams, develop a new client base, cross-sell services to existing clients who want to enter the ecosystem of this new asset class, and disrupt the industry by developing new digital payment and asset protection solutions.

Cryptocurrency custody insights and impact

Given the OCC’s greenlighting of cryptocustodial activities, banks should first consider how to develop a robust strategy that addresses several immediate questions, including:

  • Upon entering cryptocustodial activities, how will custody services align with the bank’s long-term strategy? Through staking, crypto lending, other user fees?
  • How can banks differentiate their cryptocurrency custody services? For example, can they provide enhanced reliability through a FireBlocks solution?
  • Should banks view this new guidance as a first step toward a broader support of digital assets such as Central Bank Digital Currencies?

Teams that have the necessary OCC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), US Treasury Department, and other deep regulatory experience are not only capable of helping to address these strategic business questions, but can also help guide banks in handling a host of technical questions. Consider the following:

The letter from the OCC is one of many recent inputs, from regulators in the United States and around the world, on digital assets—a clear sign that the industry is maturing. The caution flags raised in the OCC letter and as depicted above are complex. However, our experience in the digital asset industry for the past eight years across all aspects of the ecosystem, as well as interaction with a variety of regulators on the topics mentioned above, has demonstrated to us that these risks are manageable if addressed in a timely manner and with the appropriate level of expertise.

Contacts

  Tim Davis
Risk & Financial Advisory
Global Center of Excellence for Blockchain Assurance leader
Deloitte & Touche LLP
    John Graetz
Risk & Financial Advisory
Principal
Deloitte & Touche LLP
  Brian P. Hansen
US Audit & Assurance
Blockchain & Digital Assets leader
Deloitte & Touche LLP
    Michael Marzelli
Audit & Assurance
Partner
Deloitte & Touche LLP
  Rob Massey
Global & US Tax Blockchain
& Digital Assets leader
Deloitte Tax LLP
    Elana Mourtil
Managing Director
Deloitte Tax LLP

  Amy Steele
Global and US Audit & Assurance methodology
leader for Blockchain & Digital Assets
Deloitte & Touche LLP

    Richard Walker
US Financial Services
Blockchain & Digital Assets leader
Deloitte Consulting LLP

  Robert Walley
Risk & Financial Advisory
Principal
Deloitte & Touche LLP
     
 
 

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