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Former Ripple advisor Michael Barr tipped to lead the OCC: WSJ report

  • A former advisor to a blockchain firm will likely be picked by President Biden to head the OCC.
  • The OCC recently set new guidelines that allow stablecoins and the blockchain to be part of the U.S. financial system.
  • Michael Barr previously worked at the Treasury Department in the Obama administration.

President Joe Biden’s pick for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is a former advisor to embattled blockchain company Ripple.

President Biden is expected to nominate Michael Barr, a former official in the Treasury Department, to the top post that regulates national banks and foreign banks within the U.S. Barr would take over from Brian Brooks who held the position for eight months until he stepped down last week.

No specific date has been given for the announcement of Barr’s nomination, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Barr, a dean of policy at the Univerity of Michigan, assumed an advisory role at Ripple in 2015. It is not clear what role he played at the time, or when he left the blockchain firm.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Ripple and its two executives of inappropriately raising more than $1.3 billion via an unregistered sale of XRP, a securities token affiliated with the firm. 

Ripple maintains that XRP is a currency and the securities regulator should see the token the same way.

Barr set to become a powerful man in financial regulation

Barr previously served as the Assistant Treasury for Financial Institution in the Obama administration. He played a crucial role in crafting the Dodd-Frank Act, a piece of financial reform legislation passed in 2010 in response to the 2008 financial crisis.

During his time at the treasury department, Barr publicly showed that he was not in favor of tougher derivatives regulations.

The OCC regulates about 66% of the U.S. banking system and this will earn him a seat at the table of the most powerful men in financial regulation.

The OCC recently set new guidelines that permit stablecoins and blockchains to be integrated into the U.S. financial system.

“While governments in other countries have built real-time payments systems, the United States has relied on our innovation sector to deliver real-time payments technologies. Some of those technologies are built and managed by bank consortia and some are based on independent node verification networks such as blockchains,” said Brooks.

Barr is expected to be grilled about Ripple at his Senate confirmation hearing. However, the crypto community is optimistic that the appointment of Barr, who has a history with a blockchain firm, could herald a new chapter in which the industry would be subjected to ‘reasonable’ regulations that do not stifle innovation.

Just a few days ago, the U.S. Treasury nominee Jenet Yellen claimed that cryptocurrencies are “a particular concern” that has to be addressed in order to prevent illicit financial activities.

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