On July 19, 2017, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) Acting Comptroller Noreika stated that special-purpose national bank charter is a “good idea that deserves thorough analysis and careful consideration.” He thinks that, despite the pending lawsuits filed by state bank regulators to challenge, the OCC has the authority to grant national bank charters to fintech companies in appropriate circumstances.
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.
New York partners Anthony Nolan and Judith Rinearson will be speaking in a Strafford live webinar on “New Special Purpose National Bank Charter for FinTech Companies: Evaluating the Benefits and Regulatory Pitfalls on Thursday, March 16 2017 at 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT. This will focus on a recent proposal by the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to consider granting special purpose national bank charters to FinTech companies that are engaged in fiduciary activities or in activities that include receiving deposits, paying checks, or lending money. The special purpose charter offers the benefits of federal preemption and some state licensing requirements. However, there are regulatory and supervisory burdens that must be carefully considered such as activity limitations, BSA/AML requirements and minimum capital and liquidity requirements.