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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Agencies issue fintech guidance for community banks

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FDIC OCC Federal Reserve Fintech Community Banks Third-Party Risk Management Bank Regulatory

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On August 27, the FDIC, OCC, and Federal Reserve Board released a guide as part of its efforts to promote and support the adoption of new technologies by financial institutions. (See also FIL-59-2021 and OCC Bulletin 2021-40.) The Conducting Due Diligence on Financial Technology Companies: A Guide for Community Banks is intended to help community banks conduct due diligence when considering relationships with prospective fintech companies. Among other things, the guide addresses six key due diligence topics for community banks to consider, including (i) business experience, strategic goals, and qualifications; (ii) financial conditions and market information; (iii) legal and regulatory compliance; (iv) risk management policies, processes, and controls; (v) information security programs; and (vi) operational resilience, such as business continuity planning, incident response, service level agreements, and reliance on subcontractors. The guide also provides practical sources of information that may be useful when evaluating fintech companies. The agencies note that use of the guide, which is consistent with the FDIC’s Guidance for Managing Third-Party Risk, is voluntary and that the guide does not anticipate all types of fintech relationships and risks. Consistent with risk-based programs, a community bank may tailor how it uses the information “based on specific circumstances, the risks posed by each third-party relationship, and the related product, service, or activity. . . offered by the fintech company.”