Banking

FDIC asks industry for input about digital assets

WASHINGTON — The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Monday issued a wide-ranging request for information on activities by banks to facilitate customers’ use of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

The request, previewed by FDIC Chair Jelena McWilliams last week, also asks for feedback on the factors that regulators should weigh as they develop supervisory practices for the use of digital assets.

“Given that banks are increasingly exploring the emerging digital asset ecosystem, the FDIC is issuing this request for information … to help inform its understanding of the industry’s and consumers’ interests in this area,” the agency said in a press release.

Comments will be due on July 16.

The FDIC’s RFI breaks down potential digital asset activities into four categories, including “technology solutions” involving payment systems and “other token-based systems for banking activities.”

“Given that banks are increasingly exploring the emerging digital asset ecosystem, the FDIC is issuing this request for information … to help inform its understanding of the industry’s and consumers’ interests in this area,” the FDIC said.

Bloomberg News

The agency included a second category for “asset-based activities, such as investments, collateral, margin lending and liquidity facilities,” and a third category on “liability-based activities, such as deposit services and where deposits serve as digital asset reserves.”

The fourth category outlined by the FDIC focuses on “custodial activities, such as providing digital asset safekeeping and related services.”

The FDIC’s RFI follows previous steps by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to issue multiple interpretive letters on national banks’ ability to offer digital asset custody services, and charter approvals for limited-purpose trust institutions that hold cryptocurrency assets.

The FDIC also asked banks for feedback on whether traditional bank supervision practices are sufficient to address legal challenges and risks posed by digital assets.

“To what extent are … [insured depository institutions’] existing risk and compliance management frameworks designed to identify, measure, monitor, and control risks associated with the various digital asset use cases?” the agency said in the RFI. The FDIC also asked whether some digital asset activities under bank consideration would “result in IDIs’ developing entirely new or materially different risk and compliance management frameworks.”

The FDIC asked banks to weigh in on the implications that digital assets could have in the context of bank failure and receivership.

“If the FDIC were to encounter any of the digital assets use cases in the resolution process or in a receivership capacity, what complexities might be encountered in valuing, marketing, transferring, operating, or resolving the digital asset activity?” the agency said. “What actions should be considered to overcome the complexities?”



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