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Banks oppose review

Friday, November 10, 2017

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON - Small Main Street banks vowed on Wednesday to fight any review of a ban that prevents retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and tech companies like Inc (AMZN.O) from becoming fully fledged banks.

Keith Noreika, a top US banking regulator, stirred disquiet among community bankers with his call for a review of the current regulations.

The proposal by the acting Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) was made at a banking conference in New York and comes as technology companies such as Amazon and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) have already broken into the financial arena with payment services and different types of lending.

"Mixing banking and commerce is a bad idea that keeps recurring like a bad dream," said Paul Merski with the Independent Community Bankers of America.

"It's one of our bedrock resolutions to oppose the threat of full blown mixing of banking and commerce."

Mixing banking and other commercial activities has traditionally been prohibited in the US amid fears customer deposits would be used to fund or subsidise unrelated and potentially risky non-banking business.

Even so, technology companies have been making inroads.

Earlier this week, Apple released a product called Apple Pay Cash.

The feature allows iPhone users to send each other cash that can then immediately be used in stores that take Apple Pay.

The system uses a so-called "virtual debit card" to enable in-store payments.

Amazon, meanwhile, offers small-business lending.

Nonetheless, Wells Fargo & Co CEO Tim Sloan said he does not view Silicon Valley as a threat to banks. "I don't think Apple fundamentally wants to become a bank."

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