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On February 5, the OCC announced that it conditionally approved a Washington state-chartered trust company’s application to convert to a national trust bank. According to the OCC, the trust company—which will provide cryptocurrency custody services for clients in a fiduciary capacity—“is currently in the organizational phase of development and will have up to 18 months to meet the terms of its conditional approval before it converts to a national trust bank and begins to operate.” By receiving a national trust bank charter, the trust company will be allowed to provide nationwide services to customers through offices in Seattle, Boston, and New York, and over the internet. The trust company also intends to expand its custody services to support additional types of digital assets beyond cryptocurrencies, including certain tokens and stable coins, and plans to eventually offer, among other things, client-to-client trading and lending platforms. The OCC notes that approval of the conversion is subject to several conditions, including that the trust company “not engage in activities that would cause it to be a ‘bank’ as defined in section 2(c) of the Bank Holding Company Act.”
On January 11, the OCC published an interpretive letter #1176 addressing the OCC’s authority to charter national banks within the scope of 12 U.S.C. § 27(a) of the National Bank Act. As described by the OCC, the statute “recognizes the authority of the OCC to charter a bank that limits its operations to those of a trust company and activities related thereto.” Trust company activities include those “permissible for a state trust bank or company even if those state authorized activities are not necessarily considered fiduciary in nature under 12 U.S.C. § 92a and 12 CFR Part 9.” Accordingly, the letter explains that a national bank chartered under 12 U.S.C. § 27(a) is not limited to fiduciary activities as defined for purposes of 12 C.F.R. Part 9 and may engage in any permissible activities of a trust company. The letter also discusses (i) standards the OCC considers when assessing whether an activity is conducted in a fiduciary capacity; (ii) implications for chartering de novo institutions that limit activities to those of a trust company; (iii) permissible activities of converting state-chartered institutions and the handling of nonconforming assets; and (iv) permissible activities for national banks that do not have fiduciary powers.
On January 13, the OCC announced it has conditionally approved a South Dakota non-depository public trust company’s application to convert to a national trust bank. The digital bank—which offers digital asset and cryptocurrency custody services in certain states—has entered into an operating agreement as an enforceable condition of approval, which specifies capital and liquidity requirements and risk management expectations. By receiving a national trust bank charter, the digital bank will be allowed to expand its digital asset custody services nationally and may perform the functions and “activities of a fiduciary, agency, or custodial nature, in the manner authorized by federal and state law” with oversight being conducted by the OCC. According to the OCC, this approval “demonstrates that the national bank charters provided under the National Bank Act are broad and flexible enough to accommodate evolving approaches to financial services in the 21st century.”
On July 31, the OCC presented its first full-service national bank charter to a fintech company permitting the establishment of a new national bank. The new bank received conditional approval from the agency in 2018, as well as regulatory approval from both the FDIC and the Federal Reserve according to a press release issued by the company. According to the press release, the charter will allow the bank to offer FDIC-insured nationwide banking services, including traditional loan and deposit products, through mobile, online, and phone-based banking. The bank will be located in Utah but will have no branches, deposit-taking ATMs, or offices open to the public. Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian P. Brooks issued a statement noting that the opening of the bank “represents the evolution of banking and a new generation of banks that are born from innovation and built on technology intended to empower consumers and businesses.”
Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions extends relief provided to state-chartered financial institutions
On July 24, the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions issued an emergency declaration continuing relief previously provided to Louisiana-chartered financial institutions, as provided in an earlier declaration previously covered here. Among other things, the declaration extends parity granted to loans made under the Main Street Lending Program established by the Federal Reserve System and loans made under the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program. The declaration also extends relief relating to temporary branch office closures, relocations, reduced operations, and annual meetings.
On April 30, Louisiana’s Commissioner of Financial Institutions issued an emergency declaration extending several prior Covid-19 related measures until May 15 (previously covered here, here, and here). The extensions pertain to lending limits for the SBA’s PPP program, changes in branch operations, and annual meetings for state-chartered financial institutions.
On April 16, the New York State Department of Financial Services announced that it issued an order permitting state-chartered banks, credit unions, mutual savings and loan associations, and mutual savings banks to hold meetings virtually. These include stockholder, shareholder and accountholder meetings. The order also extends the timing requirement for annual stockholder meetings so that meetings may be held within seven months of the institution’s fiscal year end, instead of four months.
On April 10, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation authorized state-chartered credit unions to offer current and future government assistance programs created as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including loans made under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, to members of other Illinois state-chartered credit unions. Credit unions doing so must maintain documents demonstrating that the individual or business seeking assistance is a member of another Illinois state-chartered credit union and that the credit union at which the person is a member is unwilling or unable to provide the applicable government assistance.
On April 8, the Colorado Division of Banking issued guidance to state-chartered banks encouraging them to take measures to assist borrowers impacted by Covid-19, including halting foreclosures and providing a 90 day deferment on payment for all consumer loans. The division noted that while state-chartered banks are not required to comply with these requests, any efforts to modify existing loan terms will not be subject to examiner criticism.
On April 6, the Massachusetts Division of Banks issued guidance to state-chartered banks and credit unions indicating that it will not make adverse regulatory findings or take enforcement action if a loan made under the Small Business Administration’s Payment Protection Program (PPP) causes the institution to violate legal limits on loans to one borrower or the institution’s internal policy. The division also encouraged institutions to work collaboratively to meet demand for PPP loans, such as instituting referral systems.
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