Former Coinbase top lawyer — suddenly a top banking regulator — explains how fintech can 'level the playing field'

Episode 23 of Season 2 of The Scoop was recorded remotely with The Block’s Frank Chaparro and Brian Brooks, Acting Comptroller of the Currency and former head of legal at Coinbase.

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In a matter of months, Brian Brooks made the move from Coinbase to head of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). 

Brooks left his job as the exchange's top lawyer in March, after his former OneWest Bank colleague and current Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin tapped him to become the COO and first deputy comptroller at the OCC.  Just two months later, then Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting announced his departure, making Brooks acting Comptroller.

On this week's episode of The Scoop, Frank Chaparro sat down with Brooks to talk about what it means to have a crypto veteran in the Comptroller's chair. Brooks will run the OCC for at least the next nine months, and maybe longer depending on the political machine. Regardless, he said he's confident he can get a lot done in the time he has, and he's got an eye towards shaping guidance that will help modernize the banking system.

"I think when you look at a lot of the protests that have been going on over the last week or so and a lot of the economic pain that's been felt over the last few months, what that tells me is that the system that's worked very well for some of us for a long time has not worked well for all of us," he said. "And so I think there's a direct connection between modernizing the banking system and creating more access for diverse communities than was historically the case."

He broke down some of the topics he's been thinking about in relation to the OCC, including:

  • Beefing up the agency's Office of Innovation to better evaluate trends and provide written guidance
  • How blockchain technology can shrink wealth disparity by providing another route to establish credit
  • How federal regulation can help to level the playing field between banks and fintech firms
  • Why the digital dollar should come from the private sector, while the government handles the guidelines 

Listen to this week's episode on Apple, Spotify, GooglePlay, Stitcher or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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