March 6, 2017 / 8:10 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. OCC plans to push ahead on banking charter for online lenders

NEW YORK, March 6 (Reuters) - A top U.S. banking regulator is plowing ahead with a plan to grant special banking charters to online lenders and other financial technology companies, despite criticism that the charters would usurp power from states.

Thomas Curry, the comptroller of the currency, told an industry conference on Monday that his office plans to publish details on how fintech companies could apply for the special licenses.

In comment letters filed with the OCC, industry groups and state attorneys general have argued that the federal agency lacks the statutory authority to enter into this arena, and it could end up superseding state laws aimed at protecting consumers.

Curry, in his remarks to the LendIt fintech conference being held in New York this week, maintained that receiving a special charter would be no “ticket to light-touch supervision” and said that many state laws regarding anti-discrimination, fair lending and debt collection would remain in effect for fintech firms receiving an OCC charter.

He said the OCC would not grant a charter to any company that offers products or services “with predatory or abusive features.”

In December, the OCC broke new ground by announcing it would explore granting federal charters to fintech companies, as special purpose national banks.

He said the OCC regularly deals with banks and service providers that have explored new uses of technology to provide their services. Considering granting special charters to fintech companies is no different, he argued. (Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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