Banks and fintechs need to carry out ‘trust exercises’ in the middle of OCC analysis of BaaS

It might simply be that banking-as-a-service (BaaS) companies and fintechs have actually turned into distinct and now fully grown partners that validate upgraded and modified requirements from regulators. Earlier this month, Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu spoke at The Clearing House and Bank Policy Institute’s Annual Conference, laying out the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) main assistance for growing requirements on bank and fintech collaborations.  

Clint Heyworth, director of compliance, Alloy

The OCC’s actions might appear to enforce brand-new requirements, however if previous guidelines can be counted on, they will likely just enforce finest practices throughout a market which might require immature business out of the area, increasing the possible strength of those staying however subjecting the damage that may stream from their market power to the federal regulative structure. All that to state, in some cases you simply need to go up to the next weight class.

In any case, we need to bear in mind that regulators are accountable for securing customers who get and utilize monetary services items, even when we disagree on the information. Rather than avoid these collaborations out of worry of more policy, banks and fintechs alike need to see this as a chance to enhance their relationships with each other, regulators and their clients. 

Current regulative landscape  

Put merely, the chartered bank holds the main obligation and danger for compliance in bank and fintech collaborations. However, this is an actively progressing area in the regulative landscape. It’s crucial to explain that the OCC is simply one regulator, and since it manages bigger nationwide banks, it doesn’t really supervise most of banks in the U.S. In our evaluation, the U.S. federal prudential banking regulators will be signed up with by the FTC and state regulators to have the most significant effect in this area.  Following is a summary of where some crucial gamers in this regulative area presently base on bank and fintech collaborations:  


In August 2021, the OCC released a 20-page guide directing neighborhood banks to perform due diligence on their third-party fintech partners. Alongside Hsu’s current remarks, the OCC significantly purchased Blue Ridge Bank to increase its due diligence and its oversight of third-party fintech collaborations.  

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) 

Although all banks are guaranteed by the FDIC, lots of partner banks are neighborhood banks or mid-size banks, which are typically straight managed by the FDIC. The FDIC has a guide of its own on how banks need to supervise third-party fintech collaborations. And, as the OCC and CFPB continue to be aggressive on this concern, we anticipate the FDIC to do the same.  

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) 

Since being verified in 2021, CFPB Director Rohit Chopra has actually been outspoken about the close eye he is keeping nonbanks in monetary services. “To the extent that big tech companies are using the treasure troves of data, there needs to be some parity with local banks and other financial institutions that are following the law,” he stated soon after being verified.  

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 

The FTC, a veteran consumer-focused regulative body, takes part in federal enforcement of a range of customer financing laws, consisting of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), which manages the treatment of nonpublic individual info of customers by banks. The FTC will continue to affect public law — specifically as it associates with personal privacy requirements at banks — which needs banks and fintech partners to level set this federal regulative body versus state and worldwide personal privacy requirements. 

State regulators 

In the U.S., the monetary services market undergoes both federal and state guidelines. Historically, states have actually never ever had much of an interest in managing bank and fintech collaborations, likely since they keep business from getting state licenses and reducing earnings chances for states. State guidelines differ on a state-by-state basis, with lots of states currently starting to increase their oversight of bank-fintech collaborations. State attorney generals of the United States have just recently challenged bank collaborations as “rent-a-bank” to allow fintechs to prevent adhering to state laws, especially state usury laws. For this factor, states are now lining up with present federal firm obstacles to the bank collaboration design. 

Future of bank, fintech collaborations 

Partner banks will deal with much deeper concerns from inspectors about their important company to develop that they have suitable oversight and control over their programs provided through fintech collaborations. Banks will require to be able to develop the stability of their own third-party supplier management systems to show their partners are, in truth, in excellent condition and healthy sufficient to offer the services the bank is contracting. Banks don’t require to be terrified of this or decrease their strategies to partner with fintechs. They need to examine their present supplier management program and guarantee that it suffices. It’s constantly much better to determine an issue yourself prior to regulators are at your door, and partner banks will significantly require to show to regulators that they are carrying out the correct due diligence on third-party suppliers.  

For fintechs that currently have a deep understanding of the extremely managed monetary services area, it’s organization as typical. A crucial obligation of fintechs in bank collaborations has actually constantly been to allow their partner bank to fulfill their regulative requirements — consisting of compliance with the BSA and KYC/AML requirements, deal tracking and information security — and this is more crucial now than ever. 

For both banks and fintechs, this indicates they are going to need to enhance trust with each other.  

Building a “trust partnership” 

I’m sure a lot of us have actually been at some sort of team-building retreat where we needed to do a trust fall with a staff member. To a particular level, banks are doing a trust fall under their fintech collaborations. All they can truly do is plainly interact their regulative requirements to their fintech partners and keep a close eye on them, however they likewise need to rely on the fintech partners will follow the guidelines.  

The onus is mainly on the fintech to reveal the bank that they can be relied on with this important job. But trust does not imply an absence of oversight over the fintech partners and their programs. Trust indicates developing a working relationship and procedure that both fulfill the banks’ regulative and danger requirements and supports the launch and growth of the fintech program. 

Here are some concrete manner ins which fintechs and partner banks can support a relying on relationship:  

  1. Hire proficient compliance individuals. Fintechs need to level-up their understanding of the regulative landscape. It begins with accepting and welcoming that there is a “fin” element in fintech. There’s going to be increased oversight, there need to be individuals at the fintech that comprehend guidelines and can protect their programs. Look for individuals with tested experience in this extremely managed area who understand the dangers connected with it; 
  2. Regularly interact. The compliance and danger groups at banks and fintechs need to be fulfilling weekly. Keeping the lines of interaction open is necessary, specifically since guidelines continuously develop; 
  3. Respond rapidly. Responsiveness in fintech and bank collaborations is important — non-compliance can have significant monetary and reputational ramifications for partner banks, so fintechs requirement to deal with compliance matters as a high top priority; and 
  4. Get on an airplane! Banking is still a really in-person, in person market. Jumping on an airplane and having in-person conferences (and when you can’t fulfill face to face, striking the feared video-on button on your Zoom) will go a long method to construct trust. 

Looking ahead 

The OCC’s current remarks and enforcement versus Blue Ridge Bank are simply the idea of the iceberg. When you take a look at the OCC’s current declarations and couple that with an aggressive regulator like the CFPB, it’s simply a matter of time up until other regulators do the same and continue tightening up guidelines on bank and fintech collaborations. This might drip down to third-party facilities companies also. Those companies need to likewise be seeing this area, employing individuals that are geared up to browse it and developing trust collaborations with their bank and fintech partners.  

Clint Heyworth is the director of compliance at Alloy and brings practically twenty years of experience in the field to the business.  


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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