Brian Brooks, the Acting Comptroller of the Currency, is a known crypto enthusiast. In a recent interview, he explained the reasons for his push towards crypto payments. Brooks spoke in an interview with CNN about the challenges the government faces with processing coronavirus stimulus checks. He explained that the banking system is as busy as it has ever been, and that digital payments are the best way to optimize it.
Crypto is a Realistic Part of America’s Financial Future
The Treasury Department’s Payment Protection Program (PPP) has kicked into high gear for months. With several rounds of coronavirus stimulus checks going out to citizens, many have reported various issues with the payment system.
In April, The Washington Post reported that millions across the country had been left stranded as they either didn’t get any funds or got the wrong amount of money. At the time, a spokeswoman for the Treasury Department told the news source that the Internal Revenue Service had processed about 80 million payments in less than three weeks, with another 70 million to go.
Congress members have so far tried to get the IRS to remedy the situation. Last month, 111 lawmakers wrote to agency Commissioner Chuck Rettig to deal with the challenges of delayed payments and long waits for the processing of paper returns.
Brooks highlighted these challenges in his CNN interview. He explained that the banking system is more critical than ever before, and it has so far performed at a subpar level.
“Many people said that it took days and sometimes weeks to receive their payments. And my vision that we need to get to a place where payments can be transmitted virtually instantaneously, where errors can be eliminated,” he explained.
Brooks added that many technologies could help eliminate this challenge. While he pointed out that companies like PayPal and Square already process millions of transactions daily, his job as the Currency Comptroller is to improve innovation. This innovation could involve cryptocurrencies as well.
A Use Case for a CBDC
While Brooks didn’t mention it, one of the many ways that cryptocurrencies could improve financial system efficiency is with a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). In a discussion with Brookings, Stefan Ingves, the Governor of the Swedish Central Bank, said:
“New technologies make it easier for money to reach everybody, and that means that essentially what we’re talking about is sending money from one cell phone to another real-time. And that’s a worthy vision for the future.”
The U.S. could be on the path to such an asset. This week, Lael Brainard, the Governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, said that his bank would partner with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on CBDC research and development. The collaboration should span several years, with the organizations testing the use cases and requirements for these assets.
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