OCC’s Noreika: National Bank Charters Should Be an Option for Fintech Firms

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika today reiterated his view that companies providing financial products and services should be subject to the same regulations and examinations as traditional banks, while emphasizing that a path should exist for these companies to apply for a national bank charter.

“Providing a path for these companies to become national banks is pro-growth, can reduce regulatory burden for those companies, and can bring enhanced services to millions of people served by the federal banking system,” Noreika said. He added, however, that “national charters… will never be compulsory and should be just one choice for companies interested in banking,” along with other options like state charters and partnerships or mergers with existing banks.

Noreika noted that as the OCC continues to explore offering a special-purpose national fintech charter, fintech companies themselves must fully understand the requirements of being an OCC-regulated institution. “A national bank charter is a special thing, and the OCC will not undermine its value by granting charters to companies that are not ready to meet our admittedly high expectations,” he said.

Noreika also addressed criticism that providing a national fintech charter would inappropriately blur the line between banking and commerce, which some in the industry have suggested. “The folks who suggest that the OCC is considering granting charters to nonfinancial companies are wrong,” he said, adding that “we should not let fear prevent a constructive discussion of where commerce and banking coexist successfully today and where else it may make sense in the future.”

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