OCC seeks dismissal of New York fintech charter challenge

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WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is seeking to dismiss a challenge to its fintech charter by New York’s bank regulator.

In a legal filing on Friday, the agency argued that New York’s Department of Financial Services has no standing to oppose the fintech charter in court, since it has not yet formally issued one.

“DFS lacks standing because OCC’s [fintech charter initiative] has resulted in no-injury-in-fact,” the document said. "OCC has not reached a final decision on whether it will offer the specific type of national bank charter that is being challenged.”

The agency also opposed the state regulator’s argument that the OCC does not have the statutory authority to issue such charters, appealing to a legal doctrine that gives agencies the benefit of the doubt on their implementation of the law.

“OCC’s authoritative interpretation of the ambiguous statutory term ‘the business of banking’ is therefore entitled to deference under the Chevron framework,” the agency said.

The Comptroller's Office was sued in May by the New York regulator over its fintech charter initiative, which kicked off last year under former Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry. In July, the current acting head of the agency, Keith Noreika, said he backed the charter but was not prepared to formalize it yet.

"Suffice it to say, the agency is developing its litigation response and plans to defend this authority vigorously," Noreika said during a speech at an Exchequer Club luncheon.

The agency was also sued in April by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors over claims that it does not have the authority to issue a fintech charter. The OCC filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit late last month, on similar grounds.

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