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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

2nd Circuit says challenge to OCC’s fintech charter is unripe

Courts Appellate Second Circuit Fintech Charter OCC NYDFS National Bank Act

Courts

On June 3, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed a 2019 district court ruling, holding that NYDFS lacked Article III standing to pursue claims that the OCC’s policy to issue Special Purpose National Bank charters (SPNB charters) to non-depository fintech companies exceeded its statutory authority. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the district court entered final judgment in favor of NYDFS after concluding that the OCC’s SPNB policy should be set aside “with respect to all fintech applicants seeking a national bank charter that do not accept deposits,” rather than only those that have a nexus to New York State. Among other things, the district court, in denying the OCC’s motion to dismiss, determined that the OCC exceeded its authority under the National Bank Act because the Act “unambiguously requires receiving deposits as an aspect of the business,” and that “absent a statutory provision to the contrary, only depository institutions are eligible to receive [a SPNB] from [the] OCC.” The OCC appealed, and both parties filed briefs addressing issues related to ripeness and standing (covered by InfoBytes here).

On appeal, the 2nd Circuit concluded that NYDFS lacked Article III standing to pursue its claims because it failed to show that it had suffered an actual or imminent injury from the OCC’s decision to issue SPNB charters. The appellate court also found NYDFS’s claims to be “constitutionally unripe,” holding that NYDFS’s challenge is too speculative since no non-depository fintech companies have applied for or have been granted an SPNB charter. “It is unclear at this juncture whether New York law will ever be preempted in the ways [NYDFS] fears,” the appellate court wrote. However, the 2nd Circuit determined it lacked jurisdiction to decide the remaining issues on appeal and did not address the district court’s finding that “the ‘business of banking’ under the NBA unambiguously requires the receipt of deposits.” The appellate court remanded the case to the district court with instructions to enter a judgment of dismissal without prejudice.

NYDFS Superintendent Linda Lacewell issued a statement following the 2nd Circuit’s decision, in which she reiterated the importance of “guarding against any encroachment on the state regulatory system” and urged the OCC to reconsider its policy.

 

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