In a first, OCC grants federal charter to crypto firm
WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency granted a national trust charter to the digital asset platform Anchorage, the first approval of its kind for a cryptocurrency company.
The conditional approval for Anchorage Digital Bank, which up to now has operated as the state-chartered Anchorage Trust Co. based in South Dakota, will enable the company to more easily partner with banks that want to provide clients with custody services for their stablecoins and other cryptocurrency assets.
Anchorage’s federal trust charter does not require approval by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. since the company does not plan to accept deposits.
The OCC has attempted to clarify in a series of interpretive letters that existing rules allow banks to provide custody services for cryptocurrency assets. But the charter approval offers more regulatory clarity for Anchorage and its partner banks, said Diogo Mónica, the president and a co-founder of Anchorage, which is owned by Anchor Labs Inc.
A national trust charter “really puts us on par with other national banks from a regulatory perspective,” Mónica said in an interview. “Whenever we’re doing business with another bank, they always have to look at our regulatory regime, understand the fiduciary responsibilities, understand the local state law, understand how the assets are treated, for them to understand if they can do business with us.”
But now, “there’s not even a question of what the regulatory regime is and how it actually works,” he added. “We are on par with other national banks.”
In a press release, the OCC said that Anchorage’s approval was subject to “the same rigorous review and standards applied to all charter applications.”
“By bringing this applicant into the federal banking system, the bank and industry will benefit from the OCC’s extensive supervisory experience and expertise,” the agency said in the release. “At the same time, the Anchorage approval demonstrates that the national bank charters provided under the National Bank Act are broad and flexible enough to accommodate evolving approaches to financial services in the 21st century.”
Under the operating agreement between the OCC and Anchorage Digital Bank, released Wednesday afternoon, the institution will be required to have $7 million in tier 1 capital when it launches. The bank will also be required to set aside at least $3 million in liquidity, or the equivalent of 180 days’ worth of operating expenses.
Unlike traditional banks, national trusts do not require deposit insurance. The OCC has separately attempted to advance a special-purpose fintech charter as well as a charter specifically designed for payments companies. But no firm yet has obtained either of those charters, which have both…