Last week, the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) ruled on Monday that federally regulated banks can use stablecoins to conduct payments and other activities. The banking regulator published an interpretive letter addressing whether national banks and federal savings associations can use blockchain networks or stablecoins. The letter determined financial institutions can participate as nodes on a blockchain and store or validate payments. The OCC warned that any banks that do use blockchain networks must be aware of the operational, compliance, or fraud risks. The OCC also noted blockchain networks "may be more resilient than other payment networks" due to the large number of nodes that verify transactions and prevent tampering. Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, said the letter states that "blockchains have the same status as other global financial networks, such as SWIFT, ACH, and FedWire." Smith added that the letter is a positive sign the U.S. government realizes crypto and blockchain networks will be the foundation of future payments and fintech applications.

Here is the rest of the week in review:

Ukraine and the Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) announced Monday a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on creating a "virtual assets ecosystem and national digital currency of Ukraine." The National Bank of Ukraine has been researching a central bank digital currency since 2017, and the Stellar partnership will be the basis of its development, according to the country's Ministry of Digital Transformation. Stella COO Jason Chlipala said the Stellar (XLM) consensus protocol (SCP) offers issuers advantages compared to other public blockchains, including issuer-enforced finality: "SCP would well serve a central bank, reflecting the trusted relationships it would hold and ultimately award it a significant vote in the consensus protocol." Stellar Development Foundation CEO Denelle Dixon said the partnership with Ukraine's government and to digitize Ukraine's hryvnia will start in January.

JPMorgan (JPM  ) wrote a note Monday setting a long-term price target for Bitcoin (BTC) of $146,000 as it competes with gold as an "alternative" currency. The Wall Street giant argues the market cap of Bitcoin would need to grow by a multiple of 4.6 in a "multi-year process" to match the $2.7 trillion market cap of private sector gold. JPMorgan strategists said Bitcoin's volatility must decrease significantly to ensure institutional investors have confidence to take large stakes: "The reason is that, for most institutional investors, the volatility of each class matters in terms of portfolio risk management and the higher the volatility of an asset class, the higher the risk capital consumed by this asset class." But JPMorgan conceded the "institutional flow impulse" makes the 2020 surge unique and more exuberant.

Crypto prices soared to $1.06 trillion this week, thanks to Bitcoin's continued meteoric climb. For the majors, Stellar, Cardano (ADA), XRP, and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) posted outsized gains, while Polkadot (DOT) fell. In the top 100, the biggest losers were Celsius (CEL), down 28%, Dogecoin (DOGE), down 17%, and Ampleforth (AMPL), down 14%. The biggest gainers were Nano (NANO), up a whopping 149%, Maker (MKR), up 121%, and Stellar, up 109%. Next week traders will watch if Bitcoin can break $40,000 again.

The author owns a small amount of BTC.