CREDIT LETTERS: The Federal Housing Finance Board approved a rule that makes it easier for the 12 Home Loan banks to issue standby letters of credit to banks and thrifts. To be published this month. Effective 30 days after publication.
FED SERVICES: The Fed agreed to cut by an average of 17.5% the cost of its electronic payment services. The biggest savings will be for Fed Wire fund transfers, the cost of which will drop by an average of 30%. To be published shortly. Effective for most services on Jan. 4.
NONBANK ACTIVITIES: The FDIC approved a rule making it easier for state- chartered banks and thrifts to enter lines of business that national banks may not, such as real estate development or securities underwriting. Most applications filed by healthy state banks will be approved within 30 days. To be published shortly. Effective Jan. 1.
SETTLEMENT SERVICES: The Fed unveiled on Nov. 3 a fully automated settlement services that completes payments the day they are made without requiring participating banks to initiate Fed Wire transfers. Published Nov. 3. Effective March 29.
PRIVACY: The OTS on Nov. 3 issued guidelines for thrifts to protect information collected from customers. Thrifts should divulge how they intend to use the information, let customers limit that use, and provide safeguards against the information's theft. Effective immediately. The OCC is expected to issue similar guidance this month.
DERIVATIVES: The Securities and Exchange Commission approved a new classification for broker-dealers active in over-the-counter derivatives. Capital requirements under the new category will be far less stringent than those imposed on derivatives booked overseas. Published Nov. 3. Effective Jan. 4.
DIRECTORS' EXAMS: In an Oct. 28 memorandum, the FDIC said small banks that do not prepare an audited financial statement may continue to use a directors' exam instead. Effective immediately.
DEPOSIT INSURANCE: The FDIC on Oct. 28 voted to maintain the current rates for deposit insurance for the first half of 1999. As a result, most banks and thrifts will pay no premiums. Invoices will be sent this month.
INTERNATIONAL LOANS: The OCC approved a rule that will simplify the procedure national banks use to account for fees on national loans. The rule requires banks to use generally accepted accounting principles. Published Oct. 26. Effective Jan. 1.
COMPLIANCE MANUAL: The FDIC on Oct. 23 issued an updated version of its consumer compliance manual. The book includes recent Community Reinvestment Act guidance and sampling techniques.
TRUST ACTIVITIES: The Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council revamped the ratings system for bank trust activities. The new procedure will mirror the Camels system, which regulators use to evaluate the overall health of a bank. Published and effective Oct. 13.