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Take On Payments, a blog sponsored by the Retail Payments Risk Forum of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, is intended to foster dialogue on emerging risks in retail payment systems and enhance collaborative efforts to improve risk detection and mitigation. We encourage your active participation in Take on Payments and look forward to collaborating with you.

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July 20, 2020

Innovation with an Eye on Safety: Let Your Voice Be Heard!

Balancing safety and innovation in banking and payments is critical. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta recognizes this so has been focusing its efforts on a safer payments innovation strategic initiative. In fact, the Atlanta Fed's 2019 annual report highlights this initiative, which includes meeting with fintech entrepreneurs and bankers to share information. Earlier this year, the Atlanta Fed hosted the Federal Reserve System's first "innovation office hours" to talk with entrepreneurs and bankers on topics such as payments security, regulation, and financial inclusion. Of primary concern to many of the participants of these office hours was regulatory compliance and clarity.

In June, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on digital activities and other banking issues related to digital technology or innovation. The notice encourages all OCC-supervised institutions—national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks—to respond. If you are among these, take this opportunity to let your voice be heard.

It's our job and the job of the OCC and other regulatory agencies to ensure the safety and soundness of banks and the payments system. But we also recognize that innovation is important when it comes to delivering services to consumers and businesses, and we know we are living in a changing technological environment that is bringing in entrants from outside traditional banking. So that the payments system can achieve balance in safety and innovation, it is critical that the regulatory agencies have an ongoing dialogue with those affected by laws, rules, and regulations.

Some of the topics the OCC is requesting comment on include:

  • How is distributed technology used or potentially used in activities related to banking?
  • What are the issues that are unique to smaller institutions regarding the use and implementation of innovative products, services, or processes that the OCC should consider?
  • What are the new payment technologies and processes that the OCC should be aware of and the potential implications of these technologies and processes for the banking industry?

Input from those affected by existing and new rules and regulations will help us create an environment where financial institutions can harness new technologies in a way that makes them competitive yet safe. Do your part to help create a regulatory environment that promotes safety and allows innovation to flourish. Reply to the OCC by the August 3 deadline.