U.S. regulator to publish fintech charter position in next few months

FILE PHOTO: Joseph M. Otting speaks after being sworn in as Comptroller of the Currency in Washington, U.S., November 27, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) said on Monday it will publish its position on a proposed charter for online lenders and other so-called fintech companies in the next three months.

The fintech community has been watching closely to see if Joseph Otting, appointed U.S. Comptroller of the Currency in November, would push ahead with a charter to allow fintech firms to do business nationwide that was first announced in 2016 by his predecessor Thomas Curry.

Otting said at a conference in Washington hosted by the Independent Community Bankers of America that the regulator was aiming to publish its position on the charter within the next 60 to 90 days.

“We haven’t concluded on the position and we welcome people’s feedback. But I would say that if we did allow fintech to be regulated, they would be subject to the same rules and regulations as other banks,” said Otting, who is the first former banker to lead the OCC in decades.

The fintech charter had been on hold amid legal challenges from state regulators that directly license fintech firms but have said an OCC charter would exceed the agency’s mandate.

One of those suits, brought by the New York Department of Financial Services, was dismissed by a Manhattan federal judge in December, while another brought by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors is still pending.

Otting also told the audience of community bankers that the agency would be releasing a consultation within the next month on updating the Community Reinvestment Act, decades-old rules which aim to promote lending to low-income communities.

Reporting by Katanga Johnson; editing by Michelle Price and Chizu Nomiyama