Former Ripple Board Member Tapped for WNO Lead Biden: WSJ

Michael S. Barr, a former US Treasury Department official and a member of Ripple’s board of advisers from time to time, is likely to become the next Manager of the Currency, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

If nominated and confirmed by the US Senate, Barr will succeed Brian Brooks, a former Coinbase executive who served as Acting Manager for the latter half of 2020. Barr is currently dean at the University of Michigan Ford School of Public Policy. The news comes days after Politico first reported that Barr was being considered, alongside law professor Mehrsa Baradaran.

Barr was part of the Treasury Department of the Barack Obama administration, where he worked on bank regulations in the form of the Dodd-Frank Act, the Journal reported. Barr did not immediately return a request for comment.

Barr joined Ripple’s board of advisers in 2015, though a company spokesman confirmed he was no longer a member earlier this week. The spokesman did not immediately respond to a question about when he left the board.

If Barr does indeed get nominated and confirmed, he would be the second crypto-affiliated person to lead the federal banking regulator, which granted Anchorage a national trust charter last week.

Under Brooks, the OCC issued several interpretive letters and completed a Fair Access rule that crypto advocates believe can bring the industry closer to the traditional financial system by making it easier for these startups to tap services banking.

Some of these interpretive letters would also allow banks to participate in the cryptocurrency ecosystem by using fixedcoins for payments or acting as node operators on blockchain networks.

However, the Fair Access rule can be in limbo; while Brooks completed it before stepping down from his role last Thursday, it was not published in the Federal Register, meaning it has not taken effect yet. White House Chief of Staff Ronald Klain issued a memo earlier Wednesday that a directing agency is leading to the removal or freezing of any rules that have not yet been issued.

UPDATE (January 21, 2021, 03:40 UTC): Added additional context, correcting that Barr is on Ripple’s board of advisers, not his board of directors.