Proposals by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency to issue special purpose banking charters to fintech firms are up in the air following the departure of leading advocate Thomas Curry and his replacement as acting head of the Federal agency by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partner Keith Noreika
Curry completed his five-year term as Comptroller last month but planned to stay on and push through his controversial fintech charter.
The plans have led to an acrimonious spat with state supervisors, who argue that the proposals will usurp state rules that already exist to nurture innovation and protect consumers. The dispute reached a tipping point late last month when Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) filed a lawsuit in the US district court of Columbia, alleging that the OCC is over-reaching its authority in granting charter status to non-banks.
Noreika, a member of the Trump transition team, has extensive experience advising banks on regulatory issues, although his views on Curry's fintech plans are not known.
A full-time appointment to fill Curry's shoes could take months to pass through the Senate. Joseph Otting, a former associate of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at OneWest Bank, has been mentioned as a possible nominee.