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The week in fintech: Some see promise in OCC fintech charter

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The week in fintech: Some see promise in OCC fintech charter

This weekly recap features updates on bank technology, payments, online lending and other news in the financial technology space. Send tips, ideas and chatter to kate.garber@spglobal.com. For other recent fintech news, click here.

The OCC's proposal to grant special-purpose national bank charters to financial technology companies has been met with opposition from critics such as New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo, but others see promise in the idea.

The agency recently closed the comment period on its fintech charter paper. One commenter, Mercatus Center senior research fellow Brian Knight, submitted a letter applauding the agency for its efforts and offering several suggestions for the charter.

"The OCC charter, if done well, is an important step in the right direction," he said in an interview.

Among his suggestions, Knight recommended that the OCC spearhead interagency coordination in regulating fintech. He said it is important that regulators address market participants as a "united front" to eliminate regulatory uncertainty, which he says is damaging.

"I think it's important for financial regulators to be on the same page," Knight added. "That gives the market participants comfort that they know what the rules are."

Vullo was not immediately available for comment.

In other fintech news this week, Fifth Third Bancorp announced it is working on its fintech strategy by partnering with fintech venture capital firm QED Investors.

Also in the bank space, Customers Bancorp Inc. Chairman and CEO Jay Sidhu said the company may be 60 days away from divesting its BankMobile division and is in "final negotiations with a partner."

In deal news, MoneyGram International Inc. announced an $880 million merger with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial.

Ford Motor Credit Co. LLC, the lending arm of Ford Motor Co., will use software developed by AutoFi Inc. to allow customers to shop and secure loans on its dealers' websites, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Online lender loanDepot announced that it has funded $100 billion worth of loans since the company was founded in 2010.

Outside the U.S., the Ontario Securities Commission announced the members of its newly created fintech advisory committee.

From Jan. 19 to Jan. 26, the SNL U.S. Financial Technology Index gained 1.01%.

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S&P Global Market Intelligence released a fintech primer on four areas — digital lending, payments, blockchain and digital wealth management — of particular interest due to their rapid pace of growth, technological disruption, and regulatory and other risks. Click here to read the primer.