OCC Plans National Banking Charter for Fintech Companies, Requests Comment

Could Apple, PayPal or Square be your bank? They could if a plan by one of the main regulators of financial institutions in the U.S. has its way. In a speech on Friday at the Georgetown University Law Center, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry announced his agency’s intention to go forward with plans to offer a “special purpose national bank charter” to fintech companies that want to offer financial services. Non-bank fintech companies have assumed significant stature in a digital environment where consumers are increasingly comfortable and the OCC’s move aims to make it easier for those companies, many of which offer online payments, to navigate a patchwork of state regulations.

“First and foremost, we believe doing so is in the public interest,” Comptroller Curry said. “It is clear that fintech companies hold great potential to expand financial inclusion, empower consumers and help families and businesses take more control of their financial matters.”

The agency released a report detailing the reasoning behind offering the new charter as well as some of the requirements companies seeking such a charter must comply with. The report also invites interested parties to comment on the OCC’s plan. Requests must be emailed to specialpurposecharter@occ.treas.gov and commenters can consult a list of questions at the end of the report to guide their response.