Fintech Regulation in Focus

In reaction to the rising popularity of financial technology (“Fintech”) products, among other factors, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (“the Fed”) is seeking comments regarding proposed new guidelines (Account Access Guidelines) for their regional Reserve Banks to consider when evaluating requests for accounts and payment services from all institutions, including fintech firms such as neobanks and payment processors. The request for comment from the industry is to address the six key proposed guidelines[1] that will be used to determine if a bank, neobank or payment system can open “master accounts and/or (have) access to Federal Reserve Bank financial services (accounts and services)”[2]. No extensions are available for this filing. The primary, though not all inclusive, risks being evaluated in the proposed Account Access Guidelines are financial risk, operational risk and financial crime risk.

Because many fintech firms are founded with narrow banking charters without Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) approval, the Fed is seeking to provide clarity for how institutions and fintech companies can access payment processing services through the Federal Reserve’s automated clearinghouse network (ACH).

The Fed hopes the new guidelines will help facilitate a transparent and consistent process for all access requests. “With technology driving rapid change in the payments landscape, the proposed Account Access Guidelines would ensure requests for access to the Federal Reserve payments system from novel institutions are evaluated in a consistent and transparent manner that promotes a safe, efficient, inclusive, and innovative payment system, consumer protection, and the safety and soundness of the banking system," said Federal Reserve Board Governor Lael Brainard[3].

The proposed guidelines state that access could come with restrictions from the relevant regional Reserve Bank. These restrictions could result in an adjustment to interest rates or limits to the balances on which interest could be paid — adjustments that could impact financial reporting. Other proposed guidelines would require institutions to be eligible under the Federal Reserve Act and, among other items, ensure accounts would not facilitate activities such as money laundering, terrorist financing and fraud. Read all of the proposed guidelines here.

How DHG Can Help

The Federal Reserve will accept comments for 60 days and DHG will share updates as final decisions related to the proposed regulations are announced. As new banks, neobanks and payment systems evaluate how they may be impacted by potential guidelines, DHG can advise in a variety of risk areas including impacts related to financial reporting, operational risk and financial crime risk.

DHG’s Fintech practice delivers in-depth industry insight through the collaboration of our Financial Services, Regulatory and Technology teams. For more information, reach out to us at technology@dhg.com.

References:

[1] Federal Register notice: Proposed Guidelines for Evaluating Account and Services Requests (federalreserve.gov)

[2] Federal Register notice: Proposed Guidelines for Evaluating Account and Services Requests (federalreserve.gov)

[3] https://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/pressreleases/bcreg20210505a.htm

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Jon Tomberlin
Managing Partner, Financial Services
Jon.Tomberlin@dhg.com
Stephen Lurie
Director, DHG Regulatory Advisory
stephen.lurie@dhg.com

RELATED KNOWLEDGE SHARE

GET IN
TOUCH
© Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. All rights reserved.
DHG is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP.
praxity