Banks Must Innovate With Cryptocurrency to Keep up With Changing Demands: Brian Brooks

Piyasi Mitra
Piyasi Mitra is a journalist, features writer and copy editor who has worked with The Times of India and the ABP Group, and is currently exploring content creation in the digital space.

  • Brian Brooks says that the goal is to deliver instant, error-free payments
  • According to him, the best solution is to foster a faster payment system innovated by private companies which can be regulated by federal bodies like OCC
  • Brooks recognises the need for a new payment charter in a banking system which has been running on ‘19th-century rails’ all this while

As the acting controller of currency at America’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Brian Brooks feels that banks need to get to a place in which payments can be transmitted through a virtual medium instantaneously, and errors are eliminated.

In an interview with CNN, Brooks mentioned that crypto phenomenon is a stark reality today, and banks must buckle up to keep up with changing times. Americans are dependent on banking more than ever before, and that makes him feel that this is a good time to make the most of technology to uplift the conventional banking infrastructure.  This is especially relevant as people often complain about delays in receipt of payments made through the traditional banking ecosystem, points Brooks.

Recently, OCC issued a notification allowing banks to hold assets in the form of cryptocurrencies. While this has raised eyebrows, it has also opened a new avenue for existing banks to hold cryptocurrency for the first time.

Brooks recognises the need for a new payment charter in a banking system which has been running on ‘19th-century rails’ all this while. This ‘21st-century view of the banking sector’ doesn’t come as a surprise considering Brian’s career-graph, who was formerly heading Coinbase, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.

Over a period of 30 years, the payment system has been time-consuming, but it has witnessed sea changes in the last 15 years, thanks to fintech companies revolutionising the financial landscape. Millions of daily payments are no longer processed by banks, as people are more inclined towards digital modes of payment such as Paypal or Square, observes the OCC controller. “Good or bad, that’s happening.”

According to Brian, the best solution is to foster a faster payment system innovated by private companies which can be regulated by federal bodies like OCC. This model is being successfully followed all over the world too.

The lifestyle choices of an average consumer have undergone sea change over the past few decades. Markets too, are looking at startup fintech firms differently as they offer higher returns on equity than banks, which is why the need to rethink bank charters in today’s age becomes more pertinent than ever.

The UK, China and Singapore have already embraced such systems, and it’s time for America to gear up now.  Nothing is more powerful than a market which represents consumer choices, points Brooks, who feels it is his job to identify impediments for customers and get them what they ultimately want. Today, approximately 15% Americans hold crypto money or some form of digital assets, and that is the reality Brian Brooks has chosen not to ignore.

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