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August 2, 2018

OCC opens door for fintech foray into banking

The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will allow non-depository financial technology (fintech) companies to apply for a special purpose national bank charter.

The decision will allow fintechs such as payments firms, online lenders and cryptocurrency ventures to carry out banking business across the US under a single licensing and regulatory regime.

Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said: “Over the past 150 years banks and the federal banking system have been the source of tremendous innovation that has improved banking services and made them more accessible to millions.

“The decision to consider applications for special purpose national bank charters from innovative companies helps provide more choices to consumers and businesses, and creates greater opportunity for companies that want to provide banking services in America. Companies that provide banking services in innovative ways deserve the opportunity to pursue that business on a national scale as a federally chartered, regulated bank.”

OCC said that successful applicants that apply and qualify for, and receive, special purpose national bank charters would be supervised on capital, liquidity, and financial inclusion commitments similarly to situated national banks.

The applicants will have to submit a contingency plan as to how they plan to deal with financial stress that could threaten the viability of the bank.

Additionally, they need to outline strategies for restoring the bank’s financial strength and options for selling, merging, or liquidating the bank in the event the recovery strategies are not effective.

The OCC further stated that it has authority and expertise to supervise fintech companies that become national banks and to unwind a fintech company that becomes a national bank in case it gets bankrupt.

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