New Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Suspends Brian Brooks’ ‘Fair Access’ Banking Rule

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has suspended the previous administration’s financial inclusion rule which seeks to protect firms from being deplatformed by banks.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has taken a significant step towards encouraging financial inclusion in the United States. The incoming boss has halted the “fair access banking” rule, setting the stage for a review into the rule’s propositions.

Maintaining the Rule’s Objectives

Per an announcement on Thursday, the incoming Comptroller of the Currency has resolved his first policy move, upending a law that has been in place for two months.

The fair access rule was instituted by Brian Brooks, the former Comptroller of the Currency. With the law in place, federally chartered banks would be prohibited from denying companies access to their services based on political or ideological factors.

Published last November, the rule’s primary aim was to stop banks from limiting access to their services. While they can still deny access to services, all denials would need to be based on financial and economic factors like the ability to pay and creditworthiness.

While proponents of the rule praised it as a step in the right direction and a means of preventing motivated financial exclusion, detractors also criticized it for not being fair. Brooks had tried to ram the bill into law before the end of President Trump’s term, but he failed to publish it in the Federal Register.

Who Heads the OCC Next?

As the OCC’s statement read, the new Comptroller of the Currency will need to review the rules to ensure that it achieves its objectives. So, this action doesn’t necessarily mean that the policy proposal is dead. The statement read,

“The OCC’s long-standing supervisory guidance stating that banks should avoid termination of broad categories of customers without assessing individual customer risk remains in effect.”

As for the Comptroller role, the Biden administration has yet to make any appointments. However, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that President Biden would nominate Michael Barr, a former Under Secretary for the Treasury of Domestic Finance, to the role.

If approved, Barr will be the second former crypto executive to hold the Comptroller position. Following his stint at the Treasury Department, he joined the Board of Advisors at blockchain firm Ripple Labs in 2015. Brooks himself was general counsel to Coinbase before becoming the Comptroller of the Currency.

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