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OCC’s new Office of Financial Technology has a director and an opening date

The United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) officially announced the establishment of its Office of Financial Technology on March 30. The new office will broaden the OCC’s technology focus and help it stay abreast of the rapid developments in the banking industry, it said.

The Office of Financial Technology will open on April 10 under the leadership of Prashant Bhardwaj, who will have the titles of OCC deputy comptroller and chief financial technology officer. Bhardwaj is a new hire at the agency. According to the announcement:

“Mr. Bhardwaj will lead the team responsible for analysis, evaluation, and discussion of relevant trends in financial technology, emerging and potential risks, and the potential implications for OCC supervision. “

Plans to establish the new office were announced in October. It will incorporate and expand the OCC’s Office of Innovation, which was created in 2017.

Related: OCC makes its staff available for fintech-related discussions

The OCC is an independent bureau of the Treasury Department that has been under the direction of Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu since May 2021. The bureau supervises “national” commercial banks in the United States, which are members of the Federal Reserve and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

The OCC has repeatedly cautioned banks against dealing with crypto, particularly in its interpretive letters. In addition, it was one of the three bank regulatory agencies that released a joint statement at the beginning of the year warning banks about the risks of crypto.

“Banking organizations are neither prohibited nor discouraged from providing banking services to customers of any specific class or type,” holding crypto assets as principal “is highly likely to be inconsistent with safe and sound banking practices,” the OCC wrote, along with the Federal Reserve Board and FDIC.

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