BankThink: OCC chief goes too far reimagining national bank charter

By Karen Petrou

In a series of sometimes blistering comments and commentaries, acting Comptroller of the Currency Brooks has made it very, very clear that he plans to put a high-tech stamp on the national banking charter for as long as he holds the OCC’s seal. Many think that Brooks’ goals are principally a renewed fintech charter, a new payment charter and a very buff national bank construct. However, comments to Politico show a still more ambitious and even more structural goal: redefining federal banking regulation from one focused on entities to one governing activities. The charters under the OCC’s purview would then become little more than umbrellas in which a wide range of activities are conducted in accordance with standards specific to each one, not to national banks as a whole. This is an even more radical redesign of the federal framework than most commentators have contemplated, for it’s a revolutionary idea. Like most revolutions, it would change the landscape permanently even if a subsequent comptroller foments a restoration.