WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit by state regulators challenging the agency's fintech charter.

In April, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors sued the OCC, arguing that it did not have statutory authority to grant national bank charters to fintech companies that do not take deposits.

The OCC shot back on Friday, saying that the bank supervisor group had no standing to challenge the fintech charter while presenting a detailed legal defense of the charter in a 52-page motion to dismiss. In part, the OCC said the issue wasn't ripe for a lawsuit since it hasn't yet granted a charter.

“The OCC has not yet reached any decision with respect to whether it will offer the type of national bank charter,” the agency said. "At this stage, attempting to draw legal conclusions regarding any potential for harm" in granting the fintech charter "is an exercise in speculation.”

Keith Noreika, acting Comptroller of the Currency, listens during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in Washington.
Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika "has clarified for the public record that the OCC is not accepting applications for this type of fintech charter at this time,” said the OCC's legal motion. Bloomberg News

The motion comes a week after acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika publicly supported the agency's fintech charter initiative, but emphasized that it had not begun accepting applications.

"Noreika has clarified for the public record that the OCC is not accepting applications for this type of fintech charter at this time,” the motion said. “The complaint by" the CSBS "represents a fatally premature attempt to invoke the jurisdiction of this court to remedy a speculative harm that CSBS alleges may arise from future action by the [OCC] — action that the OCC may never take.”

In a speech on July 19 at the Exchequer Club, Noreika suggested that the agency might offer other types of charters to fintech firms to “support responsible innovation” in the industry.

“While the OCC has no imminent or concrete plans … to charter an uninsured special purpose fintech national bank, clearly other, statutory chartering options exist for the OCC,” he said, citing chartering authority to create trust banks, credit card banks and even traditional banks.

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Lalita Clozel

Lalita Clozel covers fintech regulation, anti-money-laundering, cybersecurity and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in American Banker's Washington bureau.