Bank supervision in America is unfit for the digital age

HERE COME the Germans. On May 21st Raisin, a “deposit marketplace” from Berlin, declared its intention to set up shop in America. Within a year Raisin hopes to follow its compatriot, N26, a mobile bank that is due to open there soon. Yet neither will, technically, be a bank. Remarkably, no such startup yet has a national banking charter in America, although the country is a hotbed of financial technology, spawning innovators from PayPal to Quicken Loans.

Both Raisin and N26 will rely, at least at first, on the charters and deposit insurance of local “sponsor” banks. That route is “fastest to market”, says Nicolas Kopp of N26. It is also common. Sponsors such as the Bancorp Bank, Cross River Bank and WebBank stand behind fintechs and others wanting to offer banking services. (They often supply technology, too.)

Varo Bank, of Salt Lake City (hitherto a partner of Bancorp), is likely to be the first purely mobile bank with a national charter. Last August the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a supervisor, gave Varo preliminary approval, subject to its raising $104m in capital and other conditions. Varo will also need a nod from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which it first approached in early 2017. Robinhood, an online wealth-manager, has also applied to the OCC and Square, which handles...

via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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