The tech giants are coming for your customers. Be ready
By Rob Blackwell
There’s been a lot of noise over the past year around whether fintech firms — or, more seriously, Silicon Valley behemoths like Amazon and Google — are going to make a run at owning a bank. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency moved ahead on its plan to offer a charter for nonbank fintech firms, and then-acting Comptroller Keith Noreika suggested that any firm could theoretically apply, a break from his predecessor. Amazon and PayPal executives even had meetings with the OCC over the past year, though whether they discussed the charter was unclear. Lost in all this was an inescapable fact: Big tech firms like Amazon don’t need a charter to disrupt the banking industry. Indeed, they are already changing it. “This is a classic missing the forest for the trees, looking at the charters,” said Karen Shaw Petrou, managing partner of Federal Financial Analytics. “Who needs a charter? They can offer the structural equivalent without one.”