OCC Bulletin 2020-59| June 4, 2020

National Bank and Federal Savings Association Digital Activities: Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

To

Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks, Federal Savings Associations, and Federal Branches and Agencies; Department and Division Heads; All Examining Personnel; and Other Interested Parties

Summary

On June 3, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) inviting public comment on its regulations at 12 CFR 7, subpart E, and 12 CFR 155 on national bank and federal savings association (bank) digital activities. This ANPR is part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to remain responsive to rapidly changing trends and technology developments in the financial marketplace and, specifically, to evaluate whether these regulations effectively promote economic growth and opportunity while ensuring that banks operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, treat customers fairly, and comply with applicable laws and regulations. The ANPR has a 60-day comment period, ending on August 3, 2020.

Note for Community Banks

The questions asked and issues raised in this ANPR are relevant to all OCC-supervised institutions, including community banks.

Highlights

The ANPR invites comment on the OCC’s digital activities rules and other banking issues related to digital technology or innovation, including

  • whether the legal standards in 12 CFR 7, subpart E, and 12 CFR 155 are sufficiently flexible and clear in light of the technological advances that have transformed the financial industry over the past two decades.
  • whether these legal standards create unnecessary hurdles or burdens to innovation by banks.
  • whether there are digital banking activities or issues that are not covered by these rules that the OCC should address (e.g., digital finders’ activities, certain software, and correspondent services).
  • what activities related to cryptocurrencies or cryptoassets are financial services companies or bank customers engaged in and what are the barriers or obstacles to further adoption of crypto-related activities in the banking industry.
  • how is distributed ledger technology used or potentially used in activities related to banking.
  • how are artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques used or potentially used in activities related to banking.
  • what new payments technologies and processes should the OCC be aware of and what are the potential implications of these technologies and processes for the banking industry.
  • what new or innovative tools do financial services companies use to comply with regulations and supervisory expectations (i.e., “regtech”).
  • what issues are unique to smaller institutions regarding the use and implementation of innovative products, services, or processes that the OCC should consider. 
  • what other changes to the development and delivery of banking products and services should the OCC be aware of and consider.
  • whether there are issues the OCC should consider in light of changes in the banking system that have occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The OCC is not seeking comment on its authority to issue a special purpose national bank charter in this rulemaking.

Further Information

Please contact Beth Knickerbocker, Chief Innovation Officer, Office of Innovation, at (202) 649-5200; Karen McSweeney, Special Counsel, Jason Almonte, Special Counsel, Matthew Tynan, Counsel, or Sarah Turney, Senior Attorney, Chief Counsel’s Office, at (202) 649-5490.

 

Jonathan V. Gould
Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief Counsel

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