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Former Ripple advisor set to become Comptroller of the Currency: WSJ

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According to the Wall Street Journal, a former member of Ripple’s board of advisors directors is likely to become the next Comptroller of the Currency.

The report cites insiders “familiar with the matter” who expect President Biden to nominate former Treasury Department official, Michael Barr, to the top post overseeing national banks.

The position as Comptroller of the Currency serves as the administrator of the federal banking system, and is the chief officer of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The WSJ described it as one of the most powerful banking regulators:

“The comptroller oversees hundreds of bank supervisors stationed inside large U.S. financial firms, making the person in the job one of the most powerful bank regulators.”

The official decision is yet to be finalized and the WSJ was unable to verify the story with comments from the White House, the Treasury Department, or Barr himself.

If approved, Michael Barr would be the second appointee with cryptocurrency experience in the position following former Coinbase executive Brian Brooks, who stepped down last week after eight months as the Trump administration’s acting comptroller.

Barr was appointed as a member of the Advisory Board of Ripple Labs in 2015. At the time he was keen to foster innovation in the payments sector, stating;

“Our global payments system is badly outdated. I think innovation in payments can help make the financial system safer, reduce cost, and improve access and efficiency for consumers and businesses alike.”

President Biden’s team also considered law professor at the University of California, Mehrsa Baradaran, for the position.

The Biden administration has also tapped crypto-knowledgable Gary Gensler as the most likely candidate to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. The former Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission is known to be more positive towards decentralization and financial digitization than the previous inhabitant in the role.



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Central bank digital currency a mixed blessing, says RBI

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India’s central bank has recognized the potential benefits of central bank digital currencies but not without including a few pitfalls.

The Reserve Bank of India offered its assessment of CBDCs as part of its report on currency and finance issued on Feb. 28.

As part of the report, the RBI noted that several countries are exploring the creation of their own sovereign national digital currency.

According to the central bank’s report, CBDCs can help to promote financial inclusion and transactional transparency. The RBI also stated that national digital currencies could be useful as an instrument of monetary transmission by helping to engineer public consumption towards specific categories of products and services.

Detailing the benefits of CBDCs, the RBI also remarked that digital counterparts to sovereign fiat currency could be used by central banks to pump “helicopter money.”

In its analysis, the RBI also expressed concerns about the potential negative impacts of CBDCs on the legacy financial system, noting:

“CBDC is, however, not an unmixed blessing — it poses a risk of disintermediation of the banking system, more so if the commercial banking system is perceived to be fragile.”

For countries with significant credit markets, the RBI argued that CBDCs could threaten the primacy of commercial banks as the primary channel for the transmission of monetary policy.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, India is looking to emulate China in creating its own CBDC. According to RBI governor Shaktikanta Das, the central bank is “very much in the game” of developing a digital rupee.

However, the RBI report did not include any details about the central bank’s digital rupee project. In another portion of the document, the central bank did concede that internationalization of the rupee was inevitable but added that such a move would complicate monetary policy formulation and implementation.

With several countries looking to create their own sovereign digital currencies, CBDC interoperability is becoming a concern among stakeholders. Meanwhile, reports indicate that China’s digital yuan will have a more domestic focus.