On November 20, 2020, the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR)1 to establish a new requirement for covered banks to provide “fair access” to financial services to both natural persons and legal entities.2 The preamble to the NPR explains that it is intended to address situations in which large banks have denied access to financial services on the basis of a prospective customer’s industry affiliation or connection with a politically unpopular, but lawful, activity. The NPR would require instead, among other things, that access to all financial services at covered banks be provided on the basis of a person’s individual characteristics evaluated under quantitative, impartial risk-based criteria. However, the significant overbreadth and ambiguity of the proposed regulatory language warrant careful review by affected institutions.
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