OCC Issues Latest Fintech Interpretive Letters Covering Distributed Ledger Technology in Payments and Limited Purpose Banks

19 January 2021
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Key takeaways: 

  • The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (the “OCC”) recently issued two interpretive letters that are designed to facilitate the use of financial technology and Fintech charters. The first interpretive letter, issued by the Chief Counsel, determines that national banks and federal savings associations may use and issue stablecoins and act as nodes in blockchain networks to facilitate payments transactions. This letter was followed by an additional interpretive letter issued by the Chief Counsel addressing the authority of the OCC to charter national trust banks, determining that national trust banks may engage in certain activities permissible for state trust banks, even if those activities are not necessarily fiduciary in nature.
  • While it remains to be seen what the OCC’s position on Fintech will be under the Biden administration, these letters are the latest in a series of interpretations by the OCC under former Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks that evidence the former Acting Comptroller’s encouragement of new technologies and new business models.
  • If the letters remain in effect, it may speed up the adoption of stablecoins as a means of effecting real-time payments and help charter applicants and the OCC avoid the legal challenges associated with the OCC’s special purpose national bank charter for Fintechs and the new legal action surrounding nondepository bank charters like the one sought by Figure Technologies Inc.