Some states are girding for a fight with the Trump White House over plans for the federal government to increase its role in overseeing the FinTech startup market.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, Mark Brnovich, Arizona’s Republican attorney general, said in an interview he wants the federal government to either take a more hands-off approach or ink cooperative agreements with the states when it comes to FinTech. “Washington, D.C., is, frankly, where good ideas go to die,” Brnovhic told the paper. Arizona recently launched a sandbox project aimed at encouraging companies and state officials to work together to test new FinTech products and business models. States who are courting FinTech companies now have to compete with the federal government as well.
The calls from some states come after the Treasury Department in the U.S. last week issued a report urging financial regulators to embrace FinTechs. Meanwhile, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency said it is accepting applications for banking charters from startups, while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission this year have rolled out their own sandboxes, noted the Wall Street Journal.
The push by the federal government is worrying officials in states. They fear the federal government’s push will hurt states’ ability to lure the new businesses their way. There are also concerns federal financial agencies will override state laws that protect consumers against excessive interest rates. “An OCC FinTech charter is a regulatory train wreck in the making,” said John Ryan, chief executive of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, in the report. He said the OCC doesn’t have to authority to go over state banking laws. Ryan’s group represents 50 state bank regulators. In the past, it sued the OCC over the issue — but the case was dismissed by a judge in March because the OCC hadn’t decided about national charters at the time. The group is now mulling whether to get into another legal fight over the issue.
While the states may be upset about the federal government’s FinTech push, some of the FinTech companies have reacted positively to the news, reported the Wall Street Journal. “We believe the federal approach is better,” said Brian Peters, executive director of Financial Innovation Now, a group representing technology giants such as Amazon.com and PayPal. “It allows consumers to feel like they have consistent protections around the country regardless of whether they are sending money to family in California or in Arkansas.”