Archive: 28 October 2019

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Federal Court Strikes Down FinTech Charter

Federal Court Strikes Down FinTech Charter

By Daniel S. Cohen

On October 21, Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order in Lacewell v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (No. 18-cv-8377) striking down the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (“OCC”) special purpose national bank charter for fintechs (“FinTech Charter”). After years of challenging the FinTech Charter—a charter authorizing fintechs to engage in non-depository banking activities—the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) has, for now, succeeded in overturning the charter. The OCC defended its authority by arguing that 12 CFR Part 5.20(e)(1) is consistent with the National Bank Act (“Act”) and authorizes the OCC to issue special purpose charters to nondepository banking institutions. The Court disagreed, finding that the National Bank Act only authorizes the OCC to charter depository institutions. The Court concluded that the Act allows the OCC to charter institutions engaged in the “business of banking,” and the “business of banking” necessarily includes accepting deposits. Therefore, the FinTech Charter is beyond the OCC’s authority.

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