On Monday, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith A. Noreika spoke at the second annual Online Lending Policy Summit, which allows industry participants to exchange insights, propose standards, and provide regulators and policymakers with perspectives on the regulation of online lending.
In his speech, Noreika explained that he wanted to focus on promoting economic opportunity and growth, a theme of his time as Acting Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
“Some say that if the industry had been sufficiently agile and fully met the need for lending, alternative lenders would not have grown so rapidly. I do not share that view,” Noreika said. “I see the growth of online lending and marketplace lenders as the natural evolution of banking itself.”
Noreika updated the Summit on what the OCC has accomplished and doing to promote economic opportunity and responsible innovation.
The OCC launched its responsible innovation effort in the summer of 2015. Since then, it has, “published practical guiding principles, held a public forum, and established a framework for supporting responsible innovation,” Noreika said.
To implement that framework, the agency established an Office of Innovation that has been up and running since January 2017 to make certain that institutions with federal charters have a regulatory framework.
Noreika also touched on current challenges that online lenders are facing including companies believing that regulators—and specifically the OCC is the reason behind the difficulty of, “banks terminating business accounts and other banking services of online lenders and Fintech companies without providing sufficient reason.”
Noreika addressed this issue head-on, stating that the OCC’s policy is not to direct banks to open or close individual accounts, nor to encourage banks to terminate entire categories of accounts without assessing the risks presented by individual customer’s.
“When banks fail to provide fair access and fair treatment, they cut off economic opportunity for bank customers, whether those customers are individuals or businesses,” he said. “If the system fails to provide fairness to all, it cannot be a source of strength to any.”
Noreika concluded his speech by sharing his overall optimism for the industry, and the power of innovation to improve banking, expand access, and deliver better products and services in more affordable and sustainable ways.
To read his full speech, click here.