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Curry: OCC approaching fintech innovation with 'healthy skepticism'

Comptrollerof the Currency Thomas Curry outlined various steps the OCC is taking to keeppace with changing technology and to promote responsible innovation in thebanking industry during a speech April 7.

Aspart of its efforts, the agency will sponsor "innovator fairs" thatbring together banks, nonbank innovators and OCC experts "to discussregulatory requirements and supervisory expectations and ensure a clearunderstanding of the financial services regulatory environment," Currysaid in remarks during American Banker'sRetail Banking Conference in Las Vegas. He noted that the agency is sponsoringa forum on responsible innovation at its Washington, D.C., headquarters on June23.

TheOCC will also share "success stories" from banks that have improved accessfor unbanked and underbanked populations through innovation, Curry said; thiscould include issuing guidance on the agency's expectations for banks to meetthe needs of low- to moderate-income individuals and communities.

Theefforts follow a whitepaper the OCC released March 31, outlining eight ways the agencyplans to implement fintech regulation.

Inhis speech April 7, Curry encouraged bankers to read and respond to the paper.He said the OCC will make examiners, policy and compliance experts, legalstaff, information technology professionals and economists available to banksthe agency supervises, and will consider designating lead experts onresponsible innovation to support banks. "And I don't just mean largebanks. One of our eight principles specifically calls on us to encourage banksof all sizes to integrate responsible innovation into their strategicplanning," Curry added.

Thecomptroller acknowledged the balance regulators need to strike betweensupporting innovation and ensuring the safety of the financial system andconsumers. To this end, he said the OCC will collaborate with other regulatorslike the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to promote common understandingand consistent application of rules, and to minimize regulatory burden.

"Asregulators, we need to maintain a healthy skepticism, but we need to look atemerging technology and new business practices with new eyes," Curry said.