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Varo Bank The Bancorp Application Protested to OCC But Crypto Brooks Rubber Stamps It

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - CJR - PFT

South Bronx, Sept 14 –  The fintech Varo has applied to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency of pro-crypto Brian Brooks for a transaction with The Bancorp. Fair Finance Watch filed a timely protest:

"September 7, 2020    Office of the Comptroller of the Currency  DC Comptroller Brooks & Western District Office  1225 17th Street, Suite 300 Denver, CO 80202  

Dear Comptroller Brooks and others in the OCC:    On behalf of Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch (FFW) and in my personal capacity, this is questionlessly timely protest to the application by Varo regarding The Bancorp.

FFW and Inner City Press are deeply concerned about the rush by the OCC under Acting Comptroller Brooks to let fintechs and others into banking, and by his comment about not regulating entities (banks) but rather activities. This is killing the Community Reinvestment Act and we timely request public hearings.  

 As to Varo, consider for example the recent consumer complaints below, on top of  their service interruption in October 2019, including declined debit card transactions, which they tried to blame on their processor Galileo. See, e.g., this.

 More fundementally, consider weakened CRA duties, and disproportionate exclusion: low and moderate consumers disproportionately have prepaid or limited data plans and face disconnections of their mobile service. And just because consumers have email addresses does not mean that they have regular internet access, and if they close or move their accounts, they may lose access to their financial records.    

Despite or perhaps because of these and the service interruptions, using OCC deregulation, "Varo Money has raised an additional $241 million in Series D funding, the company announced today. The investment was co-led by new investor Gallatin Point Capital and existing investor The Rise Fund, co-founded by TPG. Also participating in the round were Bono (yes, that one), along with entrepreneur, impact investor and movie producer Jeff Skoll; plus HarbourVest Partners and Progressive Insurance.  To date, Varo has raised $419.4 million in funding."  

See also, for the record on which Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch and I are timely requesting evidentiary hearings on this application, " NEWS Technology Finance  Unregulated Fintech Could be the Source of the Next Market Crash Posted to TechnologyFinance."    

Here for the record are recent consumer complaints against Varo:  Sep 02 Froze my account because I transferred money 3 times! 2.5 Details Varo Money - Froze my account because I transferred money 3 times! Varo Money - Froze my account because I transferred money 3 times! I was speechless when I received an email from Varo saying my account had been frozen due to an a number of transfers from my Chime account. I had a total of 3 transfers in the past year that I've had the account. I have $9,754 in my account and it came from unemployment, school refunds and tax refund. They won't respond to emails and customer service doens't know anything. How can this be legal? User's recommendation: find another bank because they will freeze your account.   No way to communicate with someone LOSS $9754 PREFERRED SOLUTION I want my money to be released immediately so I can transfer it to another bank 

Aug 07  Their website leaves many unanswered questions and when I called their listed phone number there was a very long and detailed recording and only by accident could you reach a prompt to talk with an agent. Another recording indicated that there would be a long delay in reaching an agent followed by some distorted music. After 20 minutes still no response so I disconnected. Their entire platform seems confusing and convoluted with unnecessary information. I would question the security of doing banking matters in an entirely mobile format with no customer service. 

Aug 04  Terrible service They closed my account. I've sent them 4 forms of id, proof of address, etc. After sending all that they said they still couldn't verify my identity and closed by account that I've had for years. Now I'm waiting for them to send my direct deposit back , and it's been a few days. User's recommendation: Don't use them."

       We timely request public hearings on, and the denial of, this application.  Thank you for your prompt attention,  Matthew R. Lee  Inner City Press / Fair Finance Watch."

  A week after this timely comment, in an order that does not address the issues raised in any way, Brooks' OCC handed over approval then asked, " A separate letter is enclosed requesting your feedback on how we handled the referenced application. We would appreciate your response so we may improve our service." Yeah, service. Politely, this does not comply with the APA (or CRA). For real, this is corrupt, a give-away by an ever worsen OCC.

  The Federal Reserve coordinated its timing with the OCC of Brian Brooks, who has numerous conflicts of interest in the fintech field.    Varo has bragged, "Varo has filed its Strategic Plan with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and believes that it will be approved in the near future. Varo respectfully submits that the OCC process is the appropriate forum for his comments. The Comment Letter vaguely references the “COVID-19 pandemic” and “Coronavirus restrictions” without providing any clear or definite demonstration as to how such pandemic or restrictions have interfered with the Commenter’s ability to meet the specified comment period or given rise to any hardship to Commenter or other meritorious reason to extend the comment period, or how the arbitrarily chosen “Phase Two” of such restrictions would alleviate any such unsubstantiated causes for delay. To the contrary, by virtue of the scope and content of the Comment Letter itself, the Commenter has clearly demonstrated his ability to comment within the specified comment period."

   What arrogance - commenting amid lockdowns is fine, the OCC is the place to comment. Well, now it's in.

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