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OCC Chief Brian Brooks Steps Down, Warns Against Politicization of Fintech

One of the key driving forces behind the past year of crypto-friendly laws emerging from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is Brian Brooks, who has been running the federal agency since May last year. With the incoming Biden administration at the end of this month, Brooks is leaving against the backdrop of a new, incoming appointed Comptroller selected by Joe Biden and his team. Before this, Brooks took to a live AMA, Elliptic Crypto & Coffee with Regulators Series, with Elliptic CEO Simone Maini to voice his thoughts about decentralization and finance.

Brooks is against the politicization of fintech, and states that payment companies should not be allowed to refuse the provision of financial services to certain industries or activities, citing payment giants Visa and Mastercard’s refusal to process transactions for Pornhub a few months back, and also most recently, Trump’s campaign after violence was incited against Capitol Hill.

While these companies’ decisions may reflect morally-guided intentions for the common good, Brooks is of the opinion that if prohibition is allowed in these cases, then it is more difficult to challenge the current discrimination of the banking and financial sectors against crypto businesses, for example, something which Brooks and the OCC have been trying to change since the last quarter of 2020. 

A similar debate has arisen with social media platforms banning or suspending Trump’s accounts, as some individuals have commented that this is an infringement of the freedom of speech by these social network giants. However, supporters of the ban have also brought up a salient point – at the end of the day, these accounts or services in general are being provided by private companies, who have the right to deny both existing and new users or customers access to the service they provide. Can the same be said about finance and payments?

“We live in a world where not only information, but also money might be controlled by a handful of elites who might not like the way that any one of us thinks [about an issue],” Brooks said, according to Coindesk. “This is what decentralization is about. In the world of crypto, there is no CEO. Crypto is about freedom and if you didn’t believe that freedom mattered last week, you should think about it again.”

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