What is an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)?

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is a U.S. federal agency that charter, regulates, and supervises all national banks with respect to safety and soundness, as well as their compliance with consumer protection, anti-money laundering, and other laws. It was established in 1863 and operates under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury.

The OCC is responsible for ensuring that national banks operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, and treat customers fairly. It examines and supervises national banks and thrifts, and has the power to take enforcement actions against them if necessary. This includes revoking charters, imposing fines, and requiring corrective action.

The OCC also issues guidance and regulations to help national banks navigate complex financial and regulatory issues, and it works closely with other federal and state agencies to ensure the stability and safety of the U.S. banking system.

The Comptroller of the Currency, who is appointed by the President of the United States, is the head of the OCC and serves a five-year term. The Comptroller is responsible for managing the OCC and ensuring that it carries out its mission effectively.

In addition to its role in supervising national banks, the OCC also plays an important role in promoting financial innovation. It works to ensure that national banks have the flexibility to innovate and provide new and improved products and services to their customers, while still adhering to appropriate safety and soundness and consumer protection standards.

Simplified Example

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) can be thought of as a teacher in charge of a big school. Just like a teacher, the OCC is responsible for making sure that everything runs smoothly and everyone follows the rules. But instead of a school, the OCC is in charge of making sure banks and other financial institutions follow the rules and treat their customers fairly.

Think of a school where there are many classrooms and each classroom is run by a different teacher. In this school, the OCC is like the principal, who oversees all the teachers and makes sure they are doing a good job of teaching and keeping their classrooms in order. In the same way, the OCC oversees banks and other financial institutions to make sure they are treating their customers fairly and following all the rules.

History of "The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)"

Established by Congress in 1863, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) operates as an independent bureau within the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Tasked with the chartering, regulation, and supervision of all national banks, federal savings associations, and federal branches and agencies of foreign banks, the OCC aims to ensure the secure and prudent functioning of the national banking system. Upholding the principles of fair access to financial services and compliance with relevant laws and regulations is central to the OCC's mission. The inaugural Comptroller of the Currency, Hugh McCulloch, held office from 1863 to 1865. As a seasoned banker and former Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln, McCulloch fervently advocated for a robust national banking system and played a pivotal role in establishing the OCC's authoritative role.


The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) is responsible for chartering, regulating and supervising all national banks with respect to safety and soundness, as well as their compliance with consumer protection, anti-money laundering and other laws. An example of its role would be in the examination of a national bank to ensure it is operating in a safe and sound manner and in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The OCC also has the authority to take enforcement actions against a national bank if it determines that the bank has engaged in unsafe or unsound practices or is in violation of laws or regulations.

Another example of the OCC's role is its responsibility for issuing guidance and regulations that national banks must follow. For example, the OCC recently issued guidance on responsible innovation in the banking industry to encourage innovation while balancing safety and soundness and consumer protection considerations. The OCC also issues regulations on topics such as capital and liquidity requirements, anti-money laundering programs, and cybersecurity.

The OCC also serves as a resource for national banks, providing education and training on various banking issues and trends, such as financial technology and cybersecurity. The OCC offers various educational programs, including in-person training sessions, webinars, and online courses, to help national banks understand and comply with applicable laws and regulations, and to improve their overall operations and risk management practices. The OCC also provides technical assistance to national banks on a variety of banking issues and can assist them in finding solutions to complex problems.

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