On March 15, 2017, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency published a draft supplement to the Comptroller’s Licensing Manual that sets forth details of the OCC’s proposal to accept applications from financial technology companies for special purpose national bank charters. The OCC’s guidance makes clear that it intends to hold fintech companies to the same chartering standards as entities seeking a traditional national bank charter and that there will be no “light-touch” supervision of chartered fintechs. While there may be debate over whether the guidance provides a viable alternative for organizing fintech firms, the OCC’s move signals their desire to modernize their licensing framework to keep pace with an evolving financial services industry. The OCC invites comment on the draft supplement through close of business on April 14, 2017.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has confirmed its intention to explore issuing limited-purpose national bank charters to fintech firms engaged in banking activities — commonly called the “fintech charter.” Earlier this year, the OCC had signaled this possibility. Now, through the release of a policy paper titled “Exploring Special Purpose National Bank Charters for Fintech Companies” (FinTech Paper) and a speech by the Comptroller on Dec. 2, the OCC has taken a more formal step.
On November 18, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued final amendments to the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) banning payment methods that the FTC believes are disproportionately used by scammers (the Final Rule). The Final Rule follows the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that the FTC published on July 9, 2013. While the Final Rule makes some modifications to the proposed amendments to the TSR that were included in the NPRM, the NPRM was not modified significantly and continues to ban remotely created payment orders (including remotely created checks), cash-to-cash money transfers and cash reload mechanisms in both inbound and outbound telemarketing.
In particular, the FTC rejected many industry comments on the grounds that the commenter did not provide examples or data to support its claims, highlighting the importance of hard evidence in making a case during the FTC’s rulemaking process. Moreover, although the American Bankers Association (ABA) argued that the proposed rule would be a direct and impermissible regulation of banks that exceeds the FTC’s authority, the FTC rejected the ABA’s position.
This Sidley Update briefly summarizes the key components of the Final Rule and the FTC’s analysis in support of its rulemaking.