The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is helping-and not harming-the dual banking system by giving national banks new powers, agency Chief Counsel Julie R. Williams said Monday.
The operating subsidiary regulation and insurance rules open the door for banks to offer new products, she said. That keeps the banking franchise viable, Ms. Williams said at the Banking Expansion Institute conference here.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan told the Conference of State Bank Supervisors on Saturday that the operating subsidiary rule threatens the existence of the state charter by giving national banks greater powers.
"I'm puzzled," Ms. Williams said during a panel discussion on bank regulation.
"I thought the reason why state banks can't do what national banks can do is because of a Federal Reserve regulation. I don't think the problem is of our own making."
Kathleen M. O'Day, the Fed's associate general counsel, said the Fed's rule is based on federal law.
"Which one?" Ms. Williams asked.
Ms. O'Day did not answer.
Also at the Bank Expansion Institute, a lawyer at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said her agency plans to issue rules making it harder for banks to operate branches under a different name.
Pamela Shea, the FDIC's associate general counsel, said the agency is worried that consumers may think that the branch is a separate institution when in fact their accounts there count toward the $100,000 cap on deposit insurance.
The FDIC is not expected to outlaw this practice. But she said it plans to require "clear and conspicuous" disclaimers in all advertisements.
Also, the bank will have to use its legal name in all contracts, and new depositors must sign a form acknowledging that the branch is part of the bank, even though it has a different name.
A new rule is expected shortly.