On December 6, 2018, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”) released a series of documents relating to the process for chartering a de novo FDIC-insured depository institution.

  1. A request for information (“RFI”) on all aspects of the FDIC’s deposit insurance application process. The RFI seeks comments on the transparency and efficiency of the application process, and any unnecessary burdens that have become a part of the process.  The RFI extends to: (i) guidance and other issuances; (ii) the steps in the application and process; and (iii) communications with applicants, other interested parties and the general public.  The RFI sets out thirteen specific questions, including “specific aspects or components of the application process that particularly discourage potential applicants from initiating or completing the application process” and “ways in which the FDIC could or should support the continuing evolution of emerging technology and fintech companies as part of its application review process, and whether there are particular risks associated with any such proposals.”  Comments are due February 11, 2019.
  1. A review process for draft deposit insurance proposals. The process enables prospective organizers to request FDIC review of a draft deposit insurance proposal.  The process is designed to provide the FDIC and an organizing group the opportunity to better understand and work through possible challenges with a proposal before the group commits to filing a formal application.  The FDIC staff is available to discuss proposals, even at early stages of development, and answer any questions regarding regulatory requirements or the application process.  The FDIC staff will attempt to provide interim feedback on a draft proposal within 30 days and final feedback within 60 days.
  1. An updated handbook on deposit insurance for de novo organizers and a final procedures manual for deposit insurance applications that provide detailed information regarding the de novo application process. The procedures manual was released for public comment in July 2017.
  1. An updated version of the FDIC’s timeframes for processing regulatory applications. The timeframes set forth guidelines for processing most types of regulatory applications.  The timeframes do not purport to cover protested applications or filings that raise legal or policy issues.

The FDIC also established a centralized email address to receive questions about the de novo process or individual applications (ApplicationsMailbox@fdic.gov).

In an Op-Ed published in the American Banker on the same day that the documents were released, FDIC Chairman McWilliams announced that the FDIC is launching a nationwide outreach initiative on the de novo process, including a roundtable discussion in Washington in December, followed by discussions in each of the FDIC’s six regional offices in the coming months.  Citing the dramatic decline in de novo activities since the financial crisis, Chairman McWilliams stated that encouraging new bank formation is one of her key priorities—“[d]e novo activity is not where it should be.”  According to Chairman McWilliams, most de novo banks are “traditional banks that offer services and products to underserved communities and fill gaps in overlooked markets” and “a key source of new capital, talent, ideas, and ways to serve customers.”