Regulators are ‘spending too much time’ on crypto: Comptroller

Regulation

United States Acting Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Michael Hsu has expressed concerns that regulators are spending “too much time on crypto,” rather than more pressing issues, such as technology and banking. 

The crypto skeptic OCC head made the comments during an interview with Reuters on Oct. 13, as he outlined a worry that crypto is “occupying a lot of brain space for an awful lot of people” in the regulatory community.

Hsu has been at the helm of the OCC since May 2021 and serves as the administrator for the federal banking system and chief economic officer of the OCC.

During his tenure, he has called for greater supervision of crypto firms and standards around stablecoins, while also stressing the need for a cautious approach to crypto regulation due to “red flags” with the sector’s rapid growth.

“We’re spending too much time on crypto,” he told Reuters, adding that “it’s interesting, it has thorny issues… but relative to other technology and banking issues, I think we’re now kind of overweight crypto.”

Hsu went on to explain that there are other areas that need to be focused on at present, specifically relating to fintech, something which he emphasized last month that required immediate oversight to avoid a “severe problem or crisis” due to the sector’s rampant expansion, adding:

“The persistence of the occupation of brain space, it’s starting to worry me now that we’re not spending that time and attention on some other things.”

The OCC head said he thinks fintech is the future, and therefore it needs proper time and considerations to help the sector thrive sustainably.

“This is the future, so let’s do the future right,” he said.

These sentiments are in stark contrast to Hsu’s views on crypto, given that he described the sector as “an immature industry based on an immature technology,” during a lecture at a Harvard Law School roundtable on Oct. 11.

Related: Rep. McHenry gives progress report on stablecoin legislation, says it’s an ‘ugly baby’

Hsu also outlined concerns with the crypto sector’s apparent fear of missing out (FOMO) syndrome, which he argued fosters wild speculation as opposed to innovation:

“Promises of innovation and inclusion often mask crypto’s promotion of a gold rush vibe that exploits people’s fear of missing out on the next Google or Amazon.”

“My skepticism of crypto stems from a frustration that the most promising innovations have been crowded out by hype and a fixation on trading,” Hsu added.

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