Financial Inclusion and Robust Regulation Are on the Table as OCC Pushes Ahead With Fintech Charter

By Anthony Nolan, Judith Rinearson, Jeremy McLaughlin, and Eric Love

On March 15, 2017, the U.S. OCC issued a Draft Supplement to its Licensing Manual (Supplement) to progress its proposal to roll out a special purpose national bank (SPNB) charter for fintech companies.

The Supplement outlines the process by which a fintech company may apply for a SPNB charter, and the considerations the OCC will take into account when evaluating such applications. In addition, the Supplement reiterates the OCC’s determination that the SPNB charter would be “in the public interest” because it would provide “uniform standards and supervision,” “support[] the dual banking system,” promote “growth, modernization, and competition” in the financial system, and encourage fintech companies to “promote financial inclusion.”  It also makes clear the OCC’s determination to promote financial inclusion and to rebut criticisms that the SPNB charter would represent a light touch regulatory regime.  The SPNB is not a ‘bank-lite’ charter; an “applicant that receives OCC approval for a charter becomes a national bank subject to the laws, regulations, and federal supervision that apply to all national banks.”

Comments on the Supplement are due by April 14, 2017. Because the Supplement represents a significant step forward in the OCC’s push for a fintech charter, we expect that there will be many commenters.  Even before the OCC’s issuance of the Supplement, the proposed charter garnered substantial interest from key Members of Congress, state regulators, industry groups, and other stakeholders.  For a more detailed analysis of the Supplement, see our Legal Insight here.

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