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OCC Pauses Fair Access Rule

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OCC Pauses Fair Access Rule

Last week, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced that it is pausing the publication of the recently finalized Fair Access Rule.

The Biden Administration has asked all federal agencies to pause rulemakings that are not yet finalized, published in the Federal Register, or in effect and to review those rulemakings. While AFSA encourages the OCC to publish the rule as soon as possible, this pause is not unexpected. AFSA noted at the time the final rule was published that the Biden Administration may opt to “roll back or slow down this rule.”

The rulemaking’s purpose is to ensure fair access to banking services provided by large national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign bank organizations. Specifically, the rule codifies OCC guidance reiterating that banks operating under the OCC’s governance should offer financial products and services to business customers based on individualized risk assessments rather than based on whether the business falls in particular category.

AFSA commented in support of the proposed rule and the OCC’s efforts to encourage banks to offer financial products and services in a neutral manner, unaffected by subjective biases. In the comment letter, AFSA stated that there may be some instances when a bank should be allowed to make a quicker determination about the products or services it can offer a customer based on the customer’s business. The letter also encouraged the OCC to consider whether an entirely new risk assessment is necessary for each new customer, or whether a bank can be allowed to decline services to customers whose characteristics are outside the bank’s risk tolerance based on an abbreviated review.

February 1st, 2021 by