The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will begin accepting applications for national bank charters from non-depository fintech companies engaged in the business of banking.

“The federal banking system must continue to evolve and embrace innovation to meet changing customer needs and serve as a source of strength for the nation’s economy,” said Comptroller of the Currency Joseph M. Otting. “The decision to consider applications for special purpose national bank charters from innovative companies helps provide more choices to consumers and businesses, and creates greater opportunity for companies that want to provide banking services in America.”

The OCC’s decision was documented in a policy statement and supplement to the OCC’s Comptroller’s Licensing Manual and follows extensive outreach with many stakeholders over a two-year period.

The policy statement and supplement stress:

  • Every application will be evaluated on its unique facts and circumstances.
  • Fintech companies that apply and for and receive special purpose national bank charters will be supervised like similarly situated national banks.
  • Fintech companies will be expected to submit an acceptable contingency plan to address significant financial stress that could threaten the viability of the bank.
  • New fintech companies that become special purpose national banks will be subject to heightened supervision initially, similar to other de novo banks.
  • The OCC has the authority and resources necessary to supervise fintech companies that become national banks and to unwind a fintech company that becomes a national bank in the event that it fails.

The OCC has statutory authority, regulations, and policies that govern its review and decision making with respect to chartering national banks, including special purpose national banks. Those banks are not required to take deposits within the meaning of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act and therefore do not require insurance from the FDIC.

Qualifying fintech companies also may apply for federal charters under the OCC’s authority to charter full-service national banks and other special purpose banks, such as trust banks, banker’s banks and credit card banks.