On November 20, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) issued a proposed rule that would impose on large national banks and federal savings associations (collectively, “banks”) a requirement to provide “fair access” to the financial products and services those institutions offer. The proposal is intended to preclude the banks it covers

Today, the OCC released an interpretive letter concluding that national banks and federal savings associations (together, “banks”) may permissibly provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers.  The letter, written by Chief Counsel Jonathan Gould, describes custody of cryptocurrency as a modern form of the traditional banking activity of providing safekeeping and custody services, which the agency has previously permitted banks to conduct through electronic means.  The letter also “reaffirms the OCC’s position that national banks may provide permissible banking services to any lawful business they choose, including cryptocurrency businesses, so long as they effectively manage the risks and comply with applicable law.”

Continue Reading OCC Interpretation Paves Way for Banks to Custody Cryptocurrency

On October 22, 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) issued two letters concluding that three Federal Reserve Supervision and Regulation letters, SR 12-17: Consolidated Supervision Framework for Large Financial Institutions, SR 14-8: Consolidated Recovery Planning for Certain Large Domestic Bank Holding Companies, and SR 11-7: Guidance on Model Risk Management, are “rules” under the Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) and therefore must be submitted to Congress and the Comptroller General for review before they can take effect.  The GAO letters respond to requests made by several senators for determinations of whether the three SR letters, as well as SR 15-7: Governance Structure of the Large Institution Supervision Coordinating Committee (LISCC) Supervisory Program, are rules under the CRA.  The GAO concluded that SR 15-7 is not a rule under the CRA.

Continue Reading GAO Concludes Three SR Letters Are Rules Under Congressional Review Act

On October 25, 2018, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to stop the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) from issuing special purpose national bank charters to fintech companies.  The lawsuit follows a similar suit against the OCC by the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which we discussed in September.

Continue Reading State Regulators Renew OCC Suit Over Fintech Charter

On September 14, 2018, Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (“NYSDFS”) Maria T. Vullo filed a complaint in federal court against the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) to block the OCC from issuing any special purpose national bank (“SPNB”) charters. The OCC announced last month, after much

On September 10, 2018, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) released a proposed rule to implement section 206 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, codified in section 5A of the Home Owners’ Loan Act (“HOLA”).  Section 5A permits a federal savings association with total consolidated assets of $20 billion or less as of December 31, 2017, to elect to operate as a “covered savings association.”  A covered savings association would have the same rights and privileges as a national bank that has its main office situated in the same location as the home office of the covered savings association, and would be subject to the same duties, restrictions, penalties, liabilities, conditions, and limitations that would apply to such a national bank.  Under the terms of the statute, however, a covered savings association would still be treated as a federal savings association for certain purposes, including governance, dividends, and mergers.

Continue Reading OCC Releases Proposal to Allow Federal Savings Associations to Exercise National Bank Powers

On April 26, 2017, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) filed a complaint against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) and Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry to block the agency from going forward with its proposal to grant special purpose national bank charters to fintech companies. The CSBS filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

In December 2016, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry announced that the OCC intended to issue special purpose national bank charters to fintech companies. We discussed this announcement and the accompanying white paper in detail in a client alert. The white paper argued the OCC had authority under the National Bank Act (“NBA”) to grant special purpose charters to companies that make “bank-permissible, technology-based innovations in financial services” and that engage in at least one of three enumerated activities: receiving deposits, paying checks, or lending money. After a round of public comment—which included a critical comment letter from CSBS—the OCC released a draft supplement to its Licensing Manual that explained how it intended to evaluate fintech companies applying for special purpose charters.

The CSBS’s complaint argues that the OCC does not have the authority to grant such charters to fintech companies under federal law and that the proposal would inhibit state regulators’ ability to protect consumers.  In a press release, CSBS President and CEO John Ryan stated, “The OCC’s action is an unprecedented, unlawful expansion of the chartering authority given to it by Congress for national banks.” Mr. Ryan further explained, “To protect consumers and taxpayers, to promote innovation, and to ensure fair and open competition, CSBS was forced to take legal action against the OCC charter.”

Continue Reading Conference of State Bank Supervisors Sues To Stop OCC Fintech Charters

As discussed in our recent client alert, in a December 2, 2016 whitepaper, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) outlined its authority under the National Bank Act to grant special-purpose charters on a case-by-case basis to financial technology (“fintech”) companies that provide services equivalent to certain traditional banking activities. In

On December 2, 2016, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry announced that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) would move forward with issuing special purpose national bank charters to financial technology (“fintech”) companies. The OCC released a whitepaper outlining its authority to issue charters to fintech companies, its approach to supervising