Financial technology firms in the U.S. will be permitted to apply for special bank charters under a regulatory policy change that Republican lawmakers have already warned against.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will open its doors to nontraditional financial companies that are willing to meet some of the rigors of regulated banking, including capital, liquidity and consumer-protection rules, according to a draft policy statement released Wednesday.

"Providing a path for fintech companies to become national banks can make the financial system stronger by promoting growth, modernization and competition," the OCC said in a document explaining its decision.

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