Curry Commits to ‘Level Playing Field’ with Potential Fintech Charter

Speaking to a conference of marketplace lenders, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry today outlined features of a possible “fintech charter” for nonbank financial technology firms, which the OCC is considering whether to grant. He emphasized that consumer protection and fair lending would be considered in granting special-purpose banking charters in order to maintain a level playing field for all financial institutions.

“If we at the OCC do decide to grant limited-purpose charters in this area, the institutions who receive the charters will be held to the same strict standards of safety, soundness, and fairness that other federally chartered institutions must meet,” he said. “We want a framework that encourages and promotes advances in products, services, and processes that serve consumers, communities, and businesses better and more fairly.”

Curry warned marketplace lenders about compliance with existing rules that apply to banks and nonbanks alike. He also raised the question of whether lawmakers should consider extending Community Reinvestment Act requirements to nonbank lenders. “The CRA applies only to insured depository institutions and evaluates activity through a geographic lens,” he said.

He noted that his agency’s proposal for receiverships for non-FDIC-insured charters — as reported by ABA Daily Newsbytes yesterday — was part of the process of evaluating and developing a fintech charter. “It is related, particularly to the chartering of fintech firms,” he told Politico. “You need to be able to wind down something if you’re going to authorize its inception.”