The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has set up a dedicated Office of Financial Technology to oversee the development and regulation of fintech.
Prashant Bhardwaj, a 30-year veteran of the financial services industry, has been appointed to lead the new department as deputy comptroller and chief financial technology officer from April 10 this year.
In a statement announcing the department’s launch, the OCC said the Office of Financial Technology “broadens the OCC’s focus in this area and ensures the agency’s leadership and agility in providing high-quality supervision of bank-fintech partnerships”.
Bhardwaj and his team will analyze and evaluate “relevant trends” as well as “emerging and potential risks, and the potential implications for OCC supervision”, the regulator added.
The department’s creation comes in response to the rapid expansion of financial technology across the banking sector. Banks of all sizes are working with fintech companies to improve their operations and online offerings, as well as expand their reach.
Last year, the OCC’s acting comptroller Michael Hsu warned there were “nasty surprises” in store if the growth of the fintech sector was not matched by equivalent oversight.
Meanwhile, Hsu has been selected as chair of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFEIC) for a two-year term from April 1. Michael Barr, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision, will serve as vice chair.
The FFEIC is responsible for ensuring consistency and cohesion across the five main regulators, the Fed, the OCC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Credit Union Administration.