In a long-awaited speech today, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika embraced the OCC’s plans to issue special purpose national bank charters to fintech companies and emphasized that the plan upholds high bank-like standards and offers a level playing field. The charter process had been introduced under Noreika’s predecessor and while no companies have yet applied under it, he had not yet signaled his views on the plan.
“I think it is a good idea that deserves the thorough analysis and the careful consideration we are giving it,” Noreika said. “On principle, companies that offer banking products and services should be allowed to apply for national bank charters so that they can pursue their businesses on a national scale if they choose, and if they meet the criteria and standards for doing so. Providing a path for these companies to become national banks is pro-growth and in some ways can reduce regulatory burden for those companies.”
Noreika also emphasized that charters granted by the OCC would impose high standards appropriate to the applicant’s business model, including examinations, capital, liquidity and financial inclusion. “If you provide banking products and services, acting like a bank, you ought to be regulated and supervised like a bank,” he added. “While charters would provide great value to the companies that receive them, the supervision that accompanies becoming a national bank would help level the playing field in meaningful ways.”