No decision yet by OCC to offer special ‘fintech’ charters

A decision has not yet been made about whether to offer special purpose national bank charters to non-depository “fintech” companies in the business of banking, the acting comptroller of the currency told a Washington audience Monday.

However, acting Comptroller Keith Noreika said his agency will continue to defend its authority to do so vigorously.

Speaking to the Online Lending Policy Summit, a conference of on-line lenders, Noreika acknowledged interest in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) offering the special purpose bank charters. He also pointed out that the agency has filed its responses to lawsuits brought against it by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the New York Department of Financial Services challenged the OCC’s authority in the area.

“We have not, however, decided whether we will exercise that specific authority to issue special purpose national bank charters to nondepository fintech companies,” he said. “We will keep you posted.”

In other comments, Noreika said:

  • That the health of the federal banking system depends on its ability to adapt to meet the changing needs and preferences of customers and the market, including by chartering fintech companies as national banks. “We must avoid defining banking too narrowly or in a stagnant way that prevents the system from evolving or taking proper and responsible advantage of economic opportunities that result from advances in technology and commerce,” he said.
  • Companies that offer banking products and services should be allowed to apply for national bank charters if they choose, and if they meet the standards for doing so, and that many may do so through existing authorities. “Chartering innovative de novo institutions through these existing authorities enhances the federal banking system, increases choice, promotes economic opportunity, and can improve services to consumers, businesses, and communities,” he said.