OCC to Consider Fintech Charter Applications; Seeks Comment

On December 2, the OCC announced that it would move forward with considering applications from financial technology (Fintech) companies to become special-purpose national banks. In prepared remarks delivered at the Georgetown University Law Center, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry explained, among other things, that “having a clear process, criteria, and standards for Fintechs to become national banks ensures regulators and companies openly vet risks and that the institutions that receive charters have a reasonable chance of success.”

Accompanying his decision, the OCC published a paper discussing the issues and conditions that the agency will consider in granting special purpose national bank charters. According to the paper, in order to apply for a special-purpose charter, a company must engage in fiduciary activities, or one of the three core banking functions: lending money, paying checks or receiving deposits. The paper is available on the agency’s website at www.occ.gov and comments may be submitted through January 15, 2017.

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Comptroller Curry Discusses Importance of Effective Supervision Before Clearing House Annual Conference

In prepared remarks delivered on November 30 before The Clearing House Annual Conference in New York City, Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry discussed lessons from the 2008 financial crisis. Curry noted that he was “often disappointed how quickly some forget the lessons of more recent events, particularly what brought the financial system to the cliff in 2008 and what has put our banks and our economy on much firmer ground since.” His remarks emphasized the value of strong capital, the need for ample liquidity, and the importance of effective supervision.

In discussing capital, Curry noted that since the beginning of 2009, there has been a $700 billion increase in common equity capital. Such levels would allow the 33 largest bank holding companies to be well capitalized and continue lending even under the most severe scenario used by the banking agencies’ stress tests. He cautioned, however, that “[w]eakening the ratio through special exclusions only undermines our original intent and weakens the protection against excessive leverage.” Comptroller Curry similarly noted that the Liquidity Coverage Ratio and the proposed Net Stable Funding Ratio complement each other to push covered banks to hold ready resources to meet short-term cash outflows and to shift to more stable, longer-term funding.

On the subject of supervision, Curry noted the importance of “holistic supervision based on the CAMELS rating system.” He also added that while a periodic reassessment of banking laws and regulations is appropriate, “we must never settle for ‘light-touch’ supervision.” And, in concluding, Curry stressed that community banks and their examiners, in order to “remain strong and healthy,” need to “focus on strategic risk, rising credit risk from stretching for yield while relaxing underwriting standards, expansion of new technologies, and compliance issues.”

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OCC Issues Updated Guidance for Managing Bank Premises and Equipment

On November 29, the OCC announced the release of a revised Bank Premises and Equipment booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook. The revised booklet, which replaces the booklet of the same title issued in March 1990, applies to examinations of all national banks and federal savings associations engaged in the acquisition, management, and disposal of bank premises and equipment. According to the accompanying OCC Bulletin, the revised booklet incorporates updated statutory and regulatory citations and revised examination procedures since the integration of the Office of Thrift Supervision into the OCC in 2011. The bulletin explains that the booklet also replaces the “Investment in Bank Premises” booklet of the Comptroller’s Licensing Manual and the “Fixed Assets” section of the former Office of Thrift Supervision Examination Handbook.

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POSTED IN: Banking, Consumer Finance, Federal Issues

OCC Proposes Revisions to Stress Test Information Collection

On November 15, the OCC published a notice and request for comment on proposed changes to its rules requiring certain covered financial institutions, including national banks and federal savings associations with assets over $50 billion, to report certain financial information as part of stress testing. The proposed revisions to the OCC’s reporting requirements are “intended to promote consistency with” the Fed’s proposed changes to its form FR Y-14A, and consist generally of clarifying instructions, shifting the “as-of date”, adding data items, deleting data items, and redefining existing data items—including an expansion of the information collected in the scenario schedule. The proposed revisions also reflect the implementation of the final Basel III regulatory capital rule, which is set to revise and replace the OCC’s risk-based and leverage capital requirements to be consistent with agreements reached by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in ‘‘Basel III: A Global Regulatory Framework for More Resilient Banks and Banking Systems’’ (Basel III). All comments must be received by January 19, 2017.

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OCC Seeks Comments on Volcker Rule Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Disclosure Requirements

On November 18, OCC published a notice seeking comments on various reporting, recordkeeping, and disclosure requirements associated with its regulations that implemented the Volcker Rule. Among other things, the OCC is seeking comments on: (i) whether the information sought is necessary for the OCC to perform its supervisory functions; (ii) the accuracy of the OCC’s estimate of the information collection burden; (iii) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected while also minimizing the collection burdens on respondents; and (iv) estimates of capital or start-up costs and costs of operation, maintenance, and purchase of services to provide the information. Comments must be submitted on or before January 17, 2017.

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