The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has slashed by 50% the fees healthy national banks will pay for corporate applications next year.

The lower fees were made possible by the agency's recently approved operating-subsidiary rule, under which applications may be processed much faster. Speedier decision-making will save the OCC money, Comptroller Eugene A. Ludwig said Tuesday, and savings will be passed along to national banks.

Beginning Jan. 1, healthy national banks with at least "satisfactory" Community Reinvestment Act ratings and no pending enforcement actions will be eligible for quicker processing and the 50% discount.

For example, qualified institutions would pay $2,550 to convert to a national charter, $3,100 to merge with another bank, and $350 to open a branch.

The agency also announced Tuesday that it would not increase exam fees next year to cover inflation, which it put at 2.05%.

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