Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry reaffirmed his agency’s commitment to promoting responsible innovation within the financial industry in a speech at the OCC’s Responsible Innovation Forum today in Washington. Curry said that innovation that helps better meet the needs of consumers — whether by banks, fintech firms or partnerships between the two — strengthens the industry as a whole.
“At its simplest, a responsible innovation is one that meets the changing needs of consumers, businesses, and communities; is consistent with sound risk management; and aligns with the company’s business strategy,” Curry said. “Responsible innovation within the federal banking system helps institutions achieve their public purpose without compromising their safety or soundness, and supports their long term business goals.”
During a question and answer session following his speech, Curry said that he sees the need for a “regulatory sandbox” — that is, “a place for the regulated institutions and fintech firms to have a conversation about what the rules of the road are.” He added that the OCC is carefully considering the potential implications of a limited purpose charter option for fintech firms, after increasing calls from technology companies across the industry. “Our concern is to make sure that consumers are not disadvantaged,” Curry said. “In terms of the potential for chartering limited purpose firms, that’s something that presents legal and policy issues that we are trying to address during this process.”
Curry added that “there is a real opportunity for fintech to close the gap in terms of the unbanked and the underbanked,” since many unbanked or underbanked consumers have access to mobile phones. “The ability to cheaply provide essential banking services is an area where fintech can play a positive role,” Curry said.