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Anchorage Digital Bank is the first federally chartered digital asset bank

  • Anchorage Digital Bank received the OCC's first charter for a crypto bank.
  • The license will enable Anchorage to act as a custodian for other traditional banks that want to offer crypto.
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Anchorage Digital Bank is the first federally chartered digital asset bank

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency granted conditional approval to Anchorage Digital Bank yesterday for a national trust charter. That would make the crypto bank and custodian the first with a national charter in the U.S.

"This is a major milestone, not only for us as an organization, but also for the crypto industry and the wider financial world. Crypto deserves a bank, and we are immensely proud of being approved as the one to set the standard," wrote the company's founders, Diogo Mónica and Nathan McCauley, in a post on Medium.

2020 was a watershed year for the uptake in digital assets. Beyond the bull market bitcoin has enjoyed, firms like PayPal and Revolut launched crypto trading, paving the way for digital assets to make it into the mainstream. Popular tools like Square's Cash App continue to grow their footprint in crypto. Coinbase's debit card will help users spend crypto like fiat anywhere Visa is accepted. Grayscale continues to scale its digital assets.

The national bank charter places Anchorage in the same regulatory framework as traditional banks in the U.S. "In granting this charter, the OCC applied the same rigorous review and standards applied to all charter applications," the OCC wrote in a press release.

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In addition to banking its own clients, the national charter will enable the crypto bank to serve as a custodian to traditional banks for their clients to deposit crypto assets.

"Since our founding, we’ve been credited numerous times with blurring the lines between crypto and traditional finance. Today, we’re happy to see those lines begin to be erased," wrote the founders.

Things are changing broadly on the regulatory side of things. Crypto exchange Kraken was one of the first firms to get a Wyoming state license to take deposits. Paxos, a crypto custodian and broker, is behind PayPal's launch of crypto, making it easier for financial firms to leg into new digital asset businesses.

"As the space continues to mature and its use cases proliferate, we expect to see increasing demand for a wide range of services -- services that exceed the expectations of traditional finance. A federal charter significantly increases our ability to develop and offer the kinds of innovative financial products and services with the safety and soundness that institutional participants require," wrote the Anchorage founders.

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