ABA recommends making Fed’s master accounts data public

The American Bankers Association supports a proposal to publish a periodic list of depository institutions that have access to Federal Reserve accounts—often referred to as “master accounts”—and payment services, the association said Tuesday in a comment letter. ABA also suggested the agency go further than required by law, passed in December 2022 after the proposal was issued, by publishing information on listed entities such as city and state, charter type, and the date access was granted or revoked.

The long-standing practice of the Fed has been not to disclose account-related information to the general public on the basis that such information is considered confidential business information. However, the agency announced in October it would reevaluate that practice. ABA noted that since then, legislation has been signed into law that requires the Fed to take action on master accounts.

ABA said it supports the Fed’s push for more transparency, with the caveat that the agency consider additional recommendations to improve the process to evaluate applications for access. One recommendation is for the agency to publish the date when access was provided, if available, as well as the date when access ceased to be available. Another is to list the city and state where the depository institution is located along with its charter type. The association also recommended that each request for access be made public as soon as possible, before the agency’s evaluation process is complete.