August 16, 2022

Fed issues final guidelines for evaluating account and services requests

Federal ReserveThe Federal Reserve on Monday announced final guidelines for Reserve Banks to use when reviewing requests to access Fed accounts and payment services. The Account Access Guidelines do not establish legal eligibility standards, but instead establish a risk-focused framework for evaluating access requests from legally eligible institutions under federal law. 

"The new guidelines provide a consistent and transparent process to evaluate requests for Federal Reserve accounts and access to payment services in order to support a safe, inclusive, and innovative payment system," said Vice Chair Lael Brainard.

The NAFCU-supported guidelines will ensure that applications filed by nonbank entities not subject to comprehensive federal supervision are held to appropriate standards for assessing payment system or financial stability risks. Credit unions, along with other federally insured depositories, will undergo a streamlined and “less intensive” review as part of a tiered framework for evaluating requests for Reserve Bank accounts or services.

In their press release, the Fed wrote that “institutions that engage in novel activities and for which authorities are still developing appropriate supervisory and regulatory frameworks would undergo a more extensive review.”

In a letter sent to the Fed in April, NAFCU Senior Counsel for Research and Policy Andrew Morris wrote, “NAFCU supports efforts to promote a uniform and transparent framework for evaluating access requests for Reserve Bank services centered on a foundation of risk management. NAFCU agrees that this framework and its component principles should be tailored to recognize the strong prudential supervision that already exists for federally insured depository institutions such as credit unions.”  

However, Morris also noted that for non-federally insured institutions, “the Federal Reserve should apply heightened scrutiny as such applicants, or groups of applicants, may pose unique payment system risks that could arise from business models or differences in prudential supervision.”

NAFCU will prepare a final regulation summary and continue to engage with relevant federal regulators and members of Congress to ensure that nonbank financial companies are operating on a level playing field with credit unions.