Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry announced that he will step down from his position on May 5, 2017. In a speech at the "Fintech and the Future of Finance Conference," at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University, Mr. Curry reaffirmed the continuing commitment of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency ("OCC") to facilitate innovation. He acknowledged the growing impact of FinTech companies, as well as the potential complications that accompany their continued progress and advancement.
In his remarks, Mr. Curry reviewed the OCC process that led to proposals for granting national bank charters to certain FinTech companies. In response to the rapidly expanding FinTech sector, Mr. Curry explained, the OCC launched a "responsible innovation initiative," which was intended to ensure cooperation between regulators, traditional bankers, FinTech companies and other relevant entities. The initiative, which explored obstacles to innovation and considered regulatory support measures, eventually devised a solution of granting national bank charters to certain FinTech companies. To that end, the OCC published a draft supplement to the Comptroller's Licensing Manual on March 15, 2017 that detailed the process of evaluating bank charter applications from FinTech companies. Mr. Curry addressed the opposition to these special purpose charters by advising restraint:
"At the heart of the issue is the fundamental nature of the business of banking – the business of banking is dynamic and I would urge caution to anyone who wants to define banking as a static state. Such a view risks choking off growth and innovation. The federal banking system has served as a common source of strength for communities across the country and for the broader national economy for more than 150 years because it was allowed to adapt to meet the evolving need of consumers, business, and communities."
Mr. Curry also touted the OCC's new Office of Innovation, and claimed that it will have an even greater impact on the industry than the FinTech charters, since it will serve to analyze all areas of financial innovation and eventually provide consistent, confidential regulatory advice. He emphasized that the Office of Innovation was put in place to support banks and FinTech companies, and to provide evolving guidance as new opportunities for collaboration and advancement arose.
Mr. Curry – who completed his five-year term as Comptroller on April 9, 2017 – will step down from his position on May 5, 2017. Keith A. Noreika will serve as Acting Comptroller.
Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard described some of the unique challenges FinTech poses for the highly regulated financial sector.
The Conference of State Bank Supervisors filed a complaint against the Office of the Comptroller of Currency in an effort to prevent the creation of a national nonbank charter.
The Government Accountability Office issued a report on four types of financial technology: marketplace lending, mobile payments, digital wealth management, and distributed ledger technologies.
In a speech at the LendIt USA 2017 conference, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry described how his Office regulates the financial technology industry and supports innovation within the federal banking system.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency requested comments on a "Licensing Manual Draft Supplement" that outlines how the agency applies licensing standards and requirements to financial technology companies.
Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry described the OCC's approach to regulatory initiatives concerning "fintech" innovation.
Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) urged the heads of numerous federal regulatory agencies to provide insight about the tools they utilize to ensure effective oversight over financial technology firms.