OCC to Expand Regional Efforts for Project REACh

As the OCC observes the one-year anniversary of Project REACh—an initiative bringing together a broad range of stakeholders to address barriers to financial inclusion—Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu announced that the program will expand its regional focus to three new areas: Washington, D.C., Dallas and Detroit. Project REACh’s first regional effort centered on Los Angeles.

In addition to the regional efforts, Project REACh also involves several additional work streams focused on reducing the number of credit invisibles, improving access to affordable housing, strengthening minority depository institutions and expanding capital access and credit for minority-owned small businesses. Hsu challenged work stream leaders to develop what he called “moonshot” goals to guide the next two years of the project.

Speaking at a press event this afternoon, Hsu signaled that there have been discussions among Project REACh participants regarding whether certain existing policies or regulatory guidance may need to be updated to encourage innovations that would help promote financial inclusion.

“At the work stream and the sub-work stream level, there are a number of things that have been flagged,” Hsu told reporters, though he declined to mention any specifics. “At a higher level . . . I’m hearing a little bit more chatter about creating safe spaces—sandboxes, ring fencing—to have a bit more of this type of activity.” He added that the OCC is “taking a lot of this feedback on board and trying to reflect on . . . our own practices and our own approaches and how we can do things that can both allow this innovation and progress while maintaining safety and soundness.”