States to Feds Back Off on New Fintech Bank Plan January 12, 2017 Wall Street Journal, Telis Demos & Rachel Witkowski (January 11, 2017) The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) soon will begin considering special applications to allow financial technology companies to obtain national banking charters. The idea, according to the OCC, is to bring fintech firms under the supervision of the federal government and allowing them to make loans while pre-empting specific state laws. In response, some larger states plan to challenge the OCC’s plan. “Fintech may be a catchy new word, but the concept of online finance isn’t new,” said Maria Vullo, superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services, in an interview. State regulators argue that their laws are a protection against abusive lending practices. Regulators fear that payday loan companies will argue that they are fintech firms and use charters as an end run around state laws. Fintech advocates argue that that dealing with dozens of state laws hurts innovation and that national banking licensing can help more agile startups perform well in the space. In its proposal, the OCC argued that state laws would still apply in many cases and that consumer protection was a critical part of its mission.