White House directs tougher scrutiny of bank mergers

July 12, 2021

President Joe Biden directed the Justice Department and federal banking regulators to more closely scrutinize bank mergers and make it easier for customers to switch banks.

Executive Order: As part of a broad executive order to promote competition, the president:

  • Encouraged DOJ and the banking agencies to update guidelines on bank mergers to provide more robust scrutiny.
  • Encouraged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to issue rules allowing customers to download their banking data and take it with them when they switch banks.

Fact Sheet: In a fact sheet noting that federal agencies have not formally denied a bank merger application in more than 15 years, the White House said excessive consolidation raises costs for consumers, restricts access to credit, and harms low-income communities.

ICBA Position: ICBA last fall encouraged DOJ to:

  • Update its guidelines on reviewing bank mergers.
  • Prioritize mergers in small markets that preserve the financial viability of small banks.
  • Institute parity in its considerations of credit unions, Farm Credit System lenders, and online banks.