Today the Wall Street Journal reported that President Biden is expected to nominate Michael Barr to the role of Comptroller of the Currency at the OCC, one of the main banking regulators. He was previously on the advisory board of Ripple. Barr will replace Acting Comptroller Blake Paulson, who took over the role last week from Brian Brooks, former Chief Legal Officer at Coinbase, who held the OCC position in an acting capacity for eight months.
Barr is no longer with Ripple, which is currently being sued by the SEC, which asserts that the XRP cryptocurrency is a security.
The professor is currently the Dean of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. In the Obama administration, he was the Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the Department of Treasury. During that time, he was an architect of the Dodd-Frank Act, which addressed post-financial crisis regulation.
According to his bio, one of his focus areas is financial inclusion. He serves on the FDIC Advisory Committee on Economic Inclusion and is also on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation FinTech Advisory Council, amongst numerous other roles.
Last year along with other academics, Barr published papers on the ‘Central Bank of the Future’. Reading through part three, the focus is also on financial inclusion. The authors believe this can be achieved by expanding low or no-cost access to payment systems, improving payment speed, prohibiting predatory practices, reducing cross border costs, and enhancing interoperability between systems. The paper explored low-cost systems in several countries, from China’s WeChat Pay, Alipay and the digital yuan, to Kenya’s M-Pesa and the Philippines’ eGov Pay.
If nominated and confirmed, there’s a good chance Barr’s approach to digital currencies will be colored by how it might enhance financial inclusion. And much like one sees greenwashing, he’s unlikely to fall for inclusion-washing.