Comptroller voices concern over ‘hype, risk’ consumers facing with crypto investments; counsels education, awareness

The hype and the risk consumers face with cryptocurrency investments and other digital assets is of concern to the national banking regulator, he told a group Thursday, describing the ventures as a “get rich quick” scheme.

Wherever you look, someone seems to be promoting crypto investing as a way to get rich quick, or at least, as a way to accumulate long-term wealth,” said Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu. “Recently, Fidelity Investments said it will allow certain retirement savers to hold Bitcoin in their 401(k) accounts.

“As a regulator, I’m concerned by the hype and the risk consumers face with this,” he said.

Speaking before the Asian Real Estate Association of America Diversity and Fair Housing Summit, Hsu noted that one survey found Asian, Black and Hispanic adults more likely than White adults to say they have ever invested in, traded, or used a cryptocurrency.

He said other surveys suggested that the “crypto-owning population” is younger, more financially vulnerable, and more diverse than the general population.

“Of all crypto owners, 70 percent were born after 1980 and 56% earn under $50,000. Of underbanked consumers, 37% own cryptocurrency, compared to 12% of the unbanked, and 10% of the fully banked,” Hsu said.

The chief of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said an April conference sponsored by the OCC focused on minority ownership of cryptocurrencies, including two experts familiar with the interests and needs of minority communities.

“We discussed the need for regulators and banks to ensure that all consumers have access to the reliable financial information and education they need to evaluate whether cryptocurrency investments are appropriate for their own financial goals and wellbeing,” he recounted.

“I firmly believe that better financial education and information will benefit all consumers

and help reduce our nation’s broad racial wealth gap,” Hsu said.

Acting Comptroller Discusses Expanding Diversity and Inclusion, Minority Homeownership