The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) announced today that it plans to move forward with considering applications from financial technology (fintech) companies to become special purpose national banks.  OCC Press Release from Dec. 2, 2016.  The OCC has concluded, among other things, that “applying a bank regulatory framework to fintech companies will help ensure that these companies operate in a safe and sound manner so that they can effectively serve the needs of customers, businesses, and communities, just as banks do that operate under full-service charters” and that “applying the OCC’s uniform supervision over national banks, including fintech companies, will help promote consistency in the application of law and regulation across the country and ensure that consumers are treated fairly.”  OCC, “Exploring Special Purpose National Bank Chargers for Fintech Companies” (Dec. 2016) (the OCC’s paper published concurrently with this announcement). The OCC derives its authority to issue charters for national banks and federal savings associations under the National Bank Act and the Home Owners’ Loan Act.  See 12 U.S.C. §§ 1 et seq. and 1461 et seq.  A special purpose national bank may limit its activities to fiduciary activities or to any other activities within the business of banking.  A special purpose national bank that conducts activities other than fiduciary activities must conduct at least one of the following three core banking functions: (1) receiving deposits, (2) paying checks, or (3) lending money. See 12 C.F.R. 5.20(e)(1). The OCC’s reading of this authority to issue charters to special purpose banks will  now extend to fintech companies that fit within the description of a special purpose bank.