[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 237 (Tuesday, December 10, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 74041-74046]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28747]


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Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

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Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 237 / Tuesday, December 10, 2013 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 74041]]



FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM

12 CFR Part 210

[Regulation J; Docket No. R-1473]
RIN 7100-AE06


Collection of Checks and Other Items by Federal Reserve Banks and 
Funds Transfers through Fedwire; Time of Settlement by a Paying Bank 
for an Item Received from a Reserve Bank

AGENCY: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for public comment.

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SUMMARY: The Board of Governors (Board) is requesting comment on 
proposed amendments to subpart A of its Regulation J, Collection of 
Checks and Other Items by Federal Reserve Banks and Funds Transfers 
through Fedwire. The proposed rule would permit the Federal Reserve 
Banks (Reserve Banks) to require paying banks that receive presentment 
of checks from the Reserve Banks to make the proceeds of settlement for 
those checks available to the Reserve Banks as soon as one half-hour 
after receipt of the checks. The proposed rule would also permit the 
Reserve Banks to obtain settlement from paying banks by as early as 
8:30 a.m. Eastern time for checks that the Reserve Banks present. These 
proposed amendments to Regulation J are necessary to implement the 
proposed method for posting debits and credits to banks' Federal 
Reserve accounts to measure daylight overdrafts under the Federal 
Reserve Policy on Payment System Risk (PSR policy), as proposed in 
Docket No. OP-1472, elsewhere in the Federal Register.

DATES: Comments must be submitted by February 10, 2014.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. R-1473, by 
any of the following methods:
     Agency Web site: http://www.federalreserve.gov. Follow the 
instructions for submitting comments at
     http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/foia/proposedregs.aspx.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Email: regs.comments@federalreserve.gov. Include docket 
number in the subject line of the message.
     FAX: (202) 452-3819 or (202) 452-3102.
     Mail: Robert deV. Frierson, Secretary, Board of Governors 
of the Federal Reserve System, 20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW., 
Washington, DC 20551.
    All public comments are available from the Board's Web site at 
http://www.federalreserve.gov/apps/foia/proposedregs.aspx as submitted, 
except as necessary for technical reasons. Accordingly, your comments 
will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information. 
Public comments may also be viewed electronically or in paper in Room 
MP-500 of the Board's Martin Building (20th and C Streets NW.,) between 
9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Susan V. Foley, Senior Associate 
Director (202) 452-3596, Samantha J. Pelosi, Manager (202) 530-6292, 
Edith Collis, Senior Financial Services Analyst (202) 453-3638, 
Division of Reserve Bank Operations and Payment Systems; or Kara 
Handzlik, Counsel (202) 452-3852, Legal Division; for users of 
Telecommunication Devices for the Deaf (TDD) only, contact (202) 263-
4869.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    Subpart A of Regulation J, Collection of Checks and Other Items by 
Federal Reserve Banks, governs the collection of checks by the Reserve 
Banks and applies to all parties interested in an item handled by any 
Reserve Bank. Among other things, the subpart specifies the time and 
manner in which paying banks must settle for items presented to them by 
the Reserve Banks. The subpart is supplemented by the Reserve Banks' 
Operating Circular 3, Collection of Cash Items and Returned Checks, 
which provides more specific terms and conditions under which Reserve 
Banks will handle checks and other cash items and noncash items.\1\ The 
Board's Regulation CC, Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks, 
also governs the collection, presentment, and return of checks, as do 
the provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), as adopted in a 
state, to the extent those provisions are not inconsistent with 
Regulation J.\2\ Under the UCC, a paying bank generally will be 
accountable for the amount of a check if the paying bank does not 
settle for or return the check (or send notice of dishonor) before 
midnight of the banking day on which the paying bank received the 
check.\3\ A paying bank that has settled for a check before midnight of 
the banking day on which it received the check, nonetheless, may avoid 
accountability for the check by returning the check (or sending notice 
of dishonor) before midnight of the next banking day (the ``midnight 
deadline'').\4\
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    \1\ Operating Circular 3 is available at www.frbservices.org/regulations/operating_circulars.html.
    \2\ 12 CFR part 229.
    Article 4 of the UCC, as adopted by each state, governs the 
check collection process.
    \3\ UCC Sec.  4-302(a). Under the UCC, a ``banking day'' is the 
part of a day that a depository institution is open to the public 
for carrying on substantially all of its banking functions. UCC 
Sec.  4-104. An institution may treat items received after a cutoff 
hour of 2:00 p.m. local time or later as being received on the next 
banking day. UCC Sec.  4-108. For example, if a paying bank 
establishes a cutoff hour of 2:00 p.m. local time and a presenting 
bank, including a Reserve Bank, presents an item to the paying bank 
at 3:00 p.m. local time Monday, the paying bank may consider an item 
to be received on its Tuesday banking day.
    \4\ UCC Sec.  4-301(a). Section 229.30(c) of the Board's 
Regulation CC extends the UCC midnight deadline (and Regulation J 
return deadline) to the time of dispatch of the return or notice for 
expeditious means of delivery (generally those that would result in 
receiving institution's receipt of the return or notice before the 
cutoff hour on the receiving institution's next banking day after 
the otherwise applicable midnight deadline). 12 CFR 229.30(c).
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    Regulation J adopts similar rules for checks presented by Reserve 
Banks. Under Sec.  210.9(b)(1), a paying bank must, on the day it 
receives the check, settle for the check by the close of Fedwire Funds 
Service on that day, or return the check by the later of the close of 
its banking day or the close of Fedwire (both of which are earlier than 
the UCC deadline) in order to avail itself of the ability to return the 
check and revoke settlement within the midnight deadline under the 
UCC.\5\ If a paying bank settles with a Reserve Bank for a check on the 
day that the Reserve Bank presents the

[[Page 74042]]

check to the paying bank, the paying bank may revoke settlement of a 
check if it returns the check by midnight of the next banking day. For 
purposes of determining whether a paying bank will be subject to any 
applicable overdraft charges under the PSR policy, Sec.  210.9(b)(2)(i) 
of Regulation J states that the proceeds of the paying bank's 
settlement must be made available to its administrative Reserve Bank by 
the latest of (A) the next clock hour that is at least one hour after 
the paying bank receives the item; (B) 9:30 a.m.; or (C) such later 
time as provided in the Reserve Banks' operating circulars.\6\ Under 
this provision, 9:30 a.m. is the earliest possible time of day by which 
the paying bank would be required to settle for an item in order to 
avoid overdraft charges, and there must be at least one hour between 
the time the item is presented to the paying bank and the time the 
paying bank settles for the item. For example, if a Reserve Bank 
presents an item by 8:00 a.m., then the paying bank would be required 
to settle for the item at 9:30 a.m., unless a later settlement time 
were called for in the Reserve Banks' operating circulars. (Section 
210.12(i) of Regulation J provides that recipients of returned checks 
must settle with Reserve Banks in the same manner and by the same time 
as checks presented for payment.)
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    \5\ 12 CFR 210.9(b)(1).
    \6\ Section 210.9(b)(3)(i) sets forth similar times of day if 
the paying bank closes voluntarily on a Reserve Bank banking day. 
Section 210.9(b)(4)(i) sets forth analogous times if the paying bank 
receives an item on a banking day on which the Reserve Bank is 
closed, i.e., a business day that is not a banking day for the 
Reserve Bank. All times are stated in Eastern time, unless otherwise 
specified.
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    In accordance with Sec.  210.9(b), section 12.2 of the Reserve 
Banks' Operating Circular 3 sets forth 11:00 a.m. as the earliest 
settlement time (later than the 9:30 a.m. set forth in Regulation J). 
Under section 12.2, the proceeds of the paying bank's settlement must 
be available to its administrative Reserve Bank by the later of 11:00 
a.m. or the next clock hour that is at least one hour after the paying 
bank receives the item, but no later than 3:00 p.m. local time of the 
paying bank.

II. Proposed Amendments

    Separately from this notice, the Board is proposing changes to the 
PSR policy.\7\ The proposed changes relate to the Board's procedures 
for posting debit and credit entries to depository institutions' 
Federal Reserve accounts for automated clearing house (ACH) debit and 
commercial check transactions. Therefore, the Board is proposing 
changes to Sec.  210.9(b) of Regulation J to conform to the portions of 
the proposed changes to the PSR policy that relate to the Reserve 
Banks' posting practices for debits to paying banks' accounts for check 
presentments. Specifically, the Board proposes to permit the Reserve 
Banks to require a paying bank to settle for an item presented by a 
Reserve Bank as soon as one half-hour after it receives the item from 
the Reserve Bank and by as early as 8:30 a.m., in order to avoid 
overdraft charges. The settlement timeframe to preserve the right to 
return the check (close of Fedwire) would not be affected.
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    \7\ The Board's current policy on payment system risk is 
available at www.federalreserve.gov/paymentsystems/psr_policy.htm.
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    The Board proposes that Sec.  210.9(b)(2)(i) be revised to state 
that the paying bank shall settle for an item by the latest of (A) the 
next clock hour or clock half-hour that is at least one half-hour after 
the paying bank receives the item; (B) 8:30 a.m.; or (C) such later 
time as provided in the Reserve Banks' operating circulars.\8\ For 
example, if the Reserve Banks present an item by 8:00 a.m., then the 
paying bank would be required to settle for the item at 8:30 a.m. to 
avoid overdraft charges, unless a later settlement time were provided 
for in the Reserve Banks' operating circular. The Board proposes 
similar changes in Sec. Sec.  210.9(b)(3)(i) and (b)(4)(i).
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    \8\ The Reserve Banks would modify paragraph 12.2 of Operating 
Circular 3 to eliminate 11:00 a.m. as the earliest posting time.
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A. Half-Hour Window Between Presentment and Settlement

    The Board adopted the current one-hour window between presentment 
and settlement in 1992.\9\ At that time, the Board reasoned that 
decreasing to one hour the amount of time a paying bank has to examine 
the checks on the day of presentment and decide whether to settle for 
or return them would not affect the cash letter (batches of checks) 
verification processes of most institutions. The Board noted that, 
prior to the amendments, paying banks had to settle for or return the 
checks by the close of business, which permitted only limited 
verification of the cash letters. For example, a paying bank could 
verify that a cash letter had been received, but likely could not 
examine individual checks prior to settling for the cash letter by the 
close of business. Paying banks generally did not examine checks 
individually until after the close of business on the day of 
presentment or during the following day. Therefore the Board determined 
that the one-hour period between the paying bank's receipt of and 
settlement for the checks was sufficient.\10\
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    \9\ See 57 FR 46950 (Oct. 14, 1992).
    \10\  Id. at 46951.
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    When the Board adopted the one-hour window between presentment and 
settlement in 1992, depository institutions handled most checks in 
paper form. The Board believes that several technological and 
operational developments since that time justify requiring paying 
institutions to settle as soon as one half-hour after presentment. In 
the wake of the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act of 2003 (Check 
21 Act), banks now handle most checks electronically.\11\ The Reserve 
Banks now present virtually all (over 99.9 percent) checks to paying 
banks electronically. Electronic delivery of checks between Reserve 
Banks and paying banks, and computerized handling of those checks 
within institutions, should facilitate paying banks' ability to verify 
the receipt of cash letters sooner than when presentment of checks was 
done predominantly in paper form, such that one half-hour between an 
institution's receipt of checks from the Reserve Banks and the 
institution's settlement with the Reserve Banks for the checks should 
be sufficient.
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    \11\ Public Law 108-100, 117 Stat. 1177 (codified at 12 U.S.C. 
5001-5018) (2003). The act went into effect on October 28, 2004.
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    The Board requests comment on whether one half-hour between receipt 
of checks by a paying bank and the paying bank's settlement is a 
sufficient amount of time for a paying bank to perform a limited 
verification of cash letters and determine whether to settle for or 
return the cash letter. Alternatively, the Board requests comment on 
whether a shorter period of time between presentment and settlement 
would be appropriate (for example, fifteen minutes).
    The Board also proposes to define ``clock half-hour'' as a new term 
in Sec.  210.2(p)(2) to mean a time that is on the half-hour (e.g., 
1:30 or 2:30). Section 210.2(p), which the Board proposes to 
redesignate as Sec.  210.2(p)(1), currently defines the term ``clock 
hour'' as a time that is on the hour (e.g., 1:00 or 2:00).

B. Earliest Settlement Time at 8:30 a.m.

    In 1997, the Board revised Sec.  210.9(b) to explicitly refer to 
9:30 a.m. (rather than one hour after the opening of Fedwire) as the 
earliest time a paying bank could be required to settle for an item. 
This revision to Sec.  210.9(b) was intended to ensure the earliest 
settlement time for checks remained unchanged when the scheduled 
opening of Fedwire moved from 8:30 a.m.\12\
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    \12\ 62 FR 48166, 48169 (Sept. 15, 1997). Today, the Reserve 
Banks' Fedwire opening hour for a given Reserve Bank banking day is 
even earlier than it was in 1997; in 2004 it moved to 9:00 p.m. on 
the preceding calendar day. For example, for the Reserve Banks' 
banking day of Tuesday, Fedwire opens at 9:00 p.m. on Monday. See 
www.newyorkfed.org/banking/circulars/11589.html.

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[[Page 74043]]

    Depository institutions will need to have funding available by 8:30 
a.m. to settle for checks presented under the proposal. Institutions 
may fund their accounts by holding sufficient balances overnight, 
arranging for funding before the settlement time, or incurring daylight 
overdrafts in their Federal Reserve accounts (if eligible). The Reserve 
Banks now pay interest on institutions' Federal Reserve account 
balances, thereby reducing institutions' opportunity cost (i.e., loss 
of interest) associated with holding higher Federal Reserve account 
balances overnight.\13\ Although an institution cannot know the exact 
value of check presentments it will receive on a given day, it should, 
based on past trends, be able to predict within a reasonable margin of 
error an approximate amount it expects to receive and to hold balances 
sufficient to cover that amount. In addition, the current PSR policy, 
implemented in 2011, allows eligible institutions to collateralize 
their daylight overdrafts, which would reduce or eliminate any daylight 
overdraft fees associated with the proposed posting rule change. For 
each two-week reserve maintenance period, eligible depository 
institutions also receive a $150 fee waiver, reducing the burden on 
institutions that might incur small amounts of uncollateralized 
daylight overdrafts resulting from the proposed posting rule 
change.\14\
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    \13\ 12 CFR 204.10. The Board notes that Federal Home Loan Banks 
(FHLBs) are not eligible to earn interest on balances in Federal 
Reserve accounts, but can act as pass-through correspondents. Per 
section 204.10 of Regulation D, in cases of balances maintained by 
pass-through correspondents that are not interest-eligible 
institutions, Reserve Banks shall pay interest only on the balances 
maintained to satisfy a reserve balance requirement of one or more 
respondents, and the correspondents shall pass back to its 
respondents interest paid on balances in the correspondent's account 
(12 CFR 204.10).
    \14\ The Board notes that voluntary collateralization of 
daylight overdrafts and the $150 fee waiver are not available to 
Edge and agreement corporations, bankers' banks that have not waived 
their exemption from reserve requirements, limited-purpose trust 
companies, and government-sponsored enterprises (including FHLBs) 
and international organizations. These types of institutions do not 
have regular access to the discount window and, therefore, are 
expected not to incur daylight overdrafts in their Federal Reserve 
accounts.
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    The posting rules were last updated in 2002, well before the 
Reserve Banks' check processing became almost 100 percent electronic. 
Thus the proposed change better aligns with today's electronic check-
processing environment in which about 90 percent of checks, on average, 
are available to be presented by 8:00 a.m. and prompt settlement is 
possible for the majority of the value of check activity.
    The Board requests comment on whether the Reserve Banks should be 
permitted to obtain settlement from a paying bank for a check by as 
early as 8:30 a.m. The Board also requests comment on the feasibility 
of settlement before 8:30 a.m., given the current electronic check-
processing environment, and whether an earlier posting time would even 
better align presentment to settlement.

C. Effective Date

    The effective date for these proposed changes would correspond to 
the effective date of the changes the Board is proposing to the PSR 
policy, the final versions of which the Board would expect to announce 
contemporaneously. The Board proposes that the changes to the PSR 
policy, and thus these conforming changes to Regulation J, would become 
effective six months after publication of the final changes in the 
Federal Register. The Board requests comment on whether six months 
between publication of the Regulation J final rule and the rule's 
effective date provides paying banks with sufficient time to make any 
necessary operational changes. Alternatively, the Board also requests 
comment on whether a shorter period, such as three months, would be 
sufficient time.

III. Competitive Impact Analysis

    The Board conducts a competitive impact analysis when it considers 
a rule or policy change that may have a substantial effect on payment 
system participants, such as that being proposed for the posting of ACH 
debit and commercial check transactions. Specifically, the Board 
determines whether there would be a direct or material adverse effect 
on the ability of other service providers to compete with the Federal 
Reserve due to differing legal powers or due to the Federal Reserve's 
dominant market position deriving such legal differences.\15\ The Board 
believes that there are no adverse effects resulting from the proposed 
changes due to legal differences.
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    \15\ Federal Reserve Regulatory Service, 7-145.2.
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    Under Regulation J, the Reserve Banks have the legal and 
operational ability to debit paying banks for paper presentments of 
checks earlier in the day than private-sector collecting banks and, in 
turn, can pass credits for deposited checks earlier in the day without 
incurring significant intraday float. To obtain settlement from paying 
banks for paper checks presented, Regulation J permits the Reserve 
Banks to debit directly the account of the paying bank or its 
designated correspondent.\16\ In contrast, a paying bank settles for 
checks presented by a private-sector bank for same-day settlement by 
sending a Fedwire Funds transaction to the presenting bank or by 
another agreed upon method.\17\ In addition, the Reserve Banks have the 
right to debit the account of the paying bank for settlement of checks 
on the next clock hour that is at least one hour after presentment, 
whereas a private-sector collecting bank may not receive settlement 
until the close of Fedwire on the day of presentment.\18\
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    \16\ 12 CFR 210.9(b)(5).
    \17\ 12 CFR 229.36(f)(2).
    \18\ 12 CFR 210.9(b)(2); 12 CFR 229.36(f)(2).
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    In March 1998, the Board requested comment on whether these legal 
differences between the Reserve Banks and the private sector provided 
the Reserve Banks with a competitive advantage. Most commenters 
acknowledged that the regulation governing the timing and settlement 
favor Reserve Banks over private-sector collecting banks. None of the 
commenters, however, suggested an alternative that eliminated the 
disparity while maintaining a balance between the needs of both the 
paying bank and collecting banks to control some part of the settlement 
process.\19\
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    \19\ The request for comment and the subsequent notice of the 
Board's decision can be found, respectively, at 63 FR 12700 (March 
16, 1998) and 63 FR 68701 (December 14, 1998).
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    Additionally, under Regulation J, Reserve Banks can obtain same-day 
settlement for checks presented to a paying bank before the paying 
bank's cutoff hour, generally 2:00 p.m. local time or later.\20\ The 
same-day settlement rule for private-sector banks, however, requires 
that they make their presentments by 8:00 a.m. local time to ensure 
that they receive same-day settlement by Fedwire without being assessed 
presentment fees. In March 1998, the Board also requested comment on 
the effect of the difference in presentment deadlines for Reserve Banks 
and private-sector banks. Most commenters did not believe that the six-
hour difference in presentment deadlines was a significant impediment 
to the ability of private-sector banks to compete with the Reserve 
Banks.
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    \20\ 12 CFR 210.9(b)(1).
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    Based on the analysis of the comments received, the Board concluded 
then and continues to believe that these legal disparities do not 
materially affect the efficiency of or competition in the check 
collection

[[Page 74044]]

system. The costs to paying banks and their customers associated with 
reducing any remaining legal disparities would outweigh any payment 
system efficiency gains.
    In addition, the Check 21 Act facilitated the transformation of the 
nation's check collection system from one that was largely paper-based 
to one that is virtually all electronic, based on agreements between 
the parties. Institutions may determine, as part of the agreements, the 
presentment and settlement deadlines. Thus, private-sector presenting 
banks may be able to obtain settlement times equivalent to the Federal 
Reserve's check posting rule through clearinghouse rules or individual 
agreements with paying banks. Furthermore, for depositary and paying 
banks that opt to use a check clearinghouse rather than directly 
exchange paper or electronic checks, private-sector clearinghouses have 
the option to use the Reserve Banks' National Settlement Service (NSS) 
to effect settlement of checks or may settle by directing their members 
to initiate funds transfers over the Reserve Banks' Fedwire Funds 
Service.\21\ NSS's operating hours extend from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., 
while Fedwire Funds operating hours begin at 9:00 p.m. the previous 
calendar day and end at 6:30 p.m. The Reserve Banks today settle 
current check transactions (including corrections and adjustments 
associated with check-processing) from 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. within 
the Fedwire Funds operating day.
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    \21\ NSS is a multilateral settlement service owned and operated 
by the Reserve Banks. The service is offered to depository 
institutions that settle for participants in clearinghouses, 
financial exchanges, and other clearing and settlement groups. 
Settlement agents, acting on behalf of those depository institutions 
in a settlement arrangement, electronically submit settlement files 
to the Reserve Banks. Files are processed upon receipt, and entries 
are automatically posted to the depository institutions' Federal 
Reserve accounts.
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    Under the proposed posting rules, the bulk of the Reserve Banks' 
postings of credits to senders and debits to paying banks for 
commercial check transactions may shift to earlier in the day. 
Depending on the number of checks an institution sends to the Reserve 
Banks and that it receives from the Reserve Banks, the institution may 
receive either a ``net credit'' or a ``net debit'' earlier in the day. 
As a result, the earlier posting of commercial check transactions may 
be viewed as more or less attractive, depending on changes to balances.
    Given the factors discussed above, the Board does not believe that 
the proposed changes to Regulation J would have any direct adverse 
effect on other service providers to compete effectively with Reserve 
Banks in providing similar services.

IV. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

    The Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) 
requires agencies either to provide an initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis with a proposed rule or to certify that the proposed rule will 
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities. In accordance with section 3(a) of the RFA, the Board has 
reviewed the proposed regulation. In this case, the proposed rule would 
apply to all depository institutions that receive presentment or return 
of checks from the Reserve Banks. Based on current information, the 
Board believes that the proposed rule would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities (5 U.S.C. 
605(b)). Nonetheless, an initial regulatory flexibility analysis has 
been prepared in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 603 in order for the Board to 
solicit comment. The Board will, if necessary, conduct a final 
regulatory flexibility analysis after consideration of comments 
received during the public comment period.

1. Statement of the Need for, Objectives of, and Legal Basis for, the 
Proposed Rule

    These proposed amendments to Regulation J are necessary to conform 
the required settlement times for checks presented by Reserve Banks to 
the proposed method for posting debits and credits to institutions' 
Federal Reserve accounts to measure daylight overdrafts under the PSR 
policy, as proposed in Docket No. OP-1472, elsewhere in the Federal 
Register. The Board believes that the proposed posting rules better 
align the settlement for checks with actual deposit and presentment 
times, reflecting the industry's almost complete shift from paper to 
electronic check-processing.
    The proposal would permit the Reserve Banks to require a paying 
bank to settle for an item by as early as 8:30 a.m. (one hour earlier 
than under the current rule) and would require a paying bank to settle 
for an item as soon as one half-hour after it receives the item from 
the Reserve Banks (currently, paying banks are required to settle for 
an item as soon as one hour after they receive the item). Subpart A of 
Regulation J is issued by the Board pursuant to the following sections 
of the Federal Reserve Act: Sections 11(i) and (j), which grant the 
Board general supervisory and rulemaking authority over Reserve Bank 
activities; section 13, which authorizes the Reserve Banks to engage in 
check collection on behalf of depository institutions; and section 
16(14), which authorizes the Board to make regulations concerning the 
transfer of funds among Reserve Banks and to require Reserve Banks to 
exercise the functions of a clearinghouse for depository 
institutions.\22\
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    \22\ 12 U.S.C. 248(i) and (j); 12 U.S.C. 342; 12 U.S.C. 248-1.
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2. Small Entities Affected by the Proposed Rule

    The proposed rule would affect all institutions that receive checks 
or returned checks handled by the Reserve Banks. The Board believes 
that virtually all depository institutions receive checks or returned 
checks handled by the Reserve Banks on at least an occasional basis. 
Pursuant to regulations issued by the Small Business Administration 
(SBA) (13 CFR 121.201), a ``small banking organization'' includes a 
depository institution with $500 million or less in total assets. Based 
on data reported as of June 30, 2013, the Board believes that there are 
approximately 12,164 small depository institutions.

3. Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance 
Requirements

    The proposed rule would permit the Reserve Banks to require a 
paying bank to settle for an item by as early as 8:30 a.m., instead of 
9:30 a.m., and as soon as one half-hour, instead of one hour, after it 
receives the item from the Reserve Banks. Paying banks may choose to 
maintain sufficient overnight Federal Reserve account balances to fund 
checks debited at 8:30 a.m. The Reserve Banks' payment of interest on 
institutions' Federal Reserve account balances reduces paying banks' 
opportunity cost associated with doing so. In addition, the PSR policy 
allows eligible institutions to collateralize their daylight 
overdrafts, which would reduce or eliminate any daylight overdraft fees 
that may occur from the earlier settlement. Eligible institutions also 
receive a $150 fee waiver for each two-week reserve maintenance period, 
which reduces the burden particularly for smaller institutions if small 
amounts of uncollateralized daylight overdrafts occur.\23\ As noted 
earlier, under the proposed posting rules, the bulk of the Reserve 
Banks' postings of debits to paying institutions for commercial check 
transactions may shift to earlier in the day, allowing Reserve Banks to 
provide credits to depositing

[[Page 74045]]

institutions earlier, thus mitigating adverse effects on depository 
institutions.
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    \23\ As previously noted, the Board recognizes that these cost-
mitigating options are not available to all institutions.
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    The Board seeks information and comment on any costs that would 
arise from the application of the proposed rule.

4. Identification of Duplicative, Overlapping, or Conflicting Federal 
Rules

    Subpart C of the Board's Regulation CC (12 CFR part 229) sets forth 
conditions under which a paying bank must settle with a presenting bank 
for a check on the same day the check is presented to the paying bank 
in order for the paying bank to avail itself of its ability to return 
the check on its next banking day under the UCC. Settlement for checks 
presented by Reserve Banks is governed by the provisions of subpart A 
of Regulation J, and the same-day settlement provisions of Regulation 
CC do not supersede or limit the rules in Regulation J.\24\
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    \24\ See 12 CFR 210.3(f).
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5. Significant Alternatives to the Proposed Rule

    As noted above, the proposed rule would permit the Reserve Banks to 
require a paying bank to settle for an item by as early as 8:30 a.m., 
instead of 9:30 a.m., and as soon as one half-hour, instead of one 
hour, after it receives the item from the Reserve Banks. In connection 
with the proposed changes, the Board recognizes that an alternative to 
the proposed rule would be a rule that permits the Reserve Banks to 
require a paying bank to settle for an item at a time earlier than 8:30 
a.m. The Board believes the proposed time of 8:30 a.m. achieves the 
Board's goal of better aligning presentment to settlement while 
imposing minimal costs on paying banks. The Board is seeking comment, 
however, on the feasibility of settlement before 8:30 a.m. and whether 
an earlier posting time would even better align presentment to 
settlement. (See discussion above in section II.B.) In addition, in 
lieu of proposing to permit the Reserve Banks to require a paying bank 
to settle as soon as one half-hour after it receives the item from the 
Reserve Banks, the Board could have proposed a shorter period of time, 
such as fifteen minutes. The Board believes the proposed time period of 
one half-hour promotes the Board's objective of minimizing the window 
between presentment and settlement to reflect technological and 
operational developments while continuing to provide paying banks with 
sufficient time to perform a limited verification of cash letters. The 
Board is seeking comment on whether one half-hour between presentment 
and settlement is appropriate or if a shorter window would be 
sufficient. (See discussion above in section II.A.)

V. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) of 1995 (44 
U.S.C. 3506; 5 CFR part 1320 appendix A.1), the Board reviewed the 
proposed rule under the authority delegated to the Board by the Office 
of Management and Budget (OMB). No collections of information pursuant 
to the PRA are contained in the proposed rule.

List of Subjects in 12 CFR Part 210

    Banks, banking, Federal Reserve System.

Authority and Issuance

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Board proposes to 
amend Regulation J, 12 CFR part 210, as follows:

PART 210--COLLECTION OF CHECKS AND OTHER ITEMS BY FEDERAL RESERVE 
BANKS AND FUNDS TRANSFERS THROUGH FEDWIRE (REGULATION J)

0
1. The authority citation for part 210 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority: 12 U.S.C. 248(i), (j), and 248-1, 342, 360, 464, 
4001-4010, and 5001-5018.

0
2. In Sec.  210.2, revise paragraph (p) to read as follows:


Sec.  210.2  Definitions.

* * * * *
    (p) Clock hour and clock half-hour.
    (1) Clock hour means a time that is on the hour, such as 1:00, 
2:00, etc.
    (2) Clock half-hour means a time that is on the half-hour, such as 
1:30, 2:30, etc.
0
3. In Sec.  210.9, revise paragraphs (b)(2), (b)(3), and (b)(4) to read 
as follows:


Sec.  210.9  Settlement and Payment.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (2) Time of settlement. (i) On the day a paying bank receives a 
cash item from a Reserve Bank, it shall settle for the item so that the 
proceeds of the settlement are available to its administrative Reserve 
Bank, or return the item, by the latest of--
    (A) the next clock hour or clock half-hour that is at least one 
half-hour after the paying bank receives the item;
    (B) 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time; or
    (C) such later time as provided in the Reserve Banks' operating 
circulars.
    (ii) If the paying bank fails to settle for or return a cash item 
in accordance with paragraph (b)(2)(i) of this section, it shall be 
subject to any applicable overdraft charges. Settlement under paragraph 
(b)(2)(i) of this section satisfies the settlement requirements of 
paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
    (3) Paying bank closes voluntarily. (i) If a paying bank closes 
voluntarily so that it does not receive a cash item on a day that is a 
banking day for a Reserve Bank, and the Reserve Bank makes a cash item 
available to the paying bank on that day, the paying bank shall 
either--
    (A) on that day, settle for the item so that the proceeds of the 
settlement are available to its administrative Reserve Bank, or return 
the item, by the latest of the next clock hour or clock half-hour that 
is at least one half-hour after it ordinarily would have received the 
item, 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, or such later time as provided in the 
Reserve Banks' operating circulars; or
    (B) on the next day that is a banking day for both the paying bank 
and the Reserve Bank, settle for the item so that the proceeds of the 
settlement are available to its administrative Reserve Bank by 8:30 
a.m. Eastern Time on that day or such later time as provided in the 
Reserve Banks' operating circulars; and compensate the Reserve Bank for 
the value of the float associated with the item in accordance with 
procedures provided in the Reserve Bank's operating circular.
    (ii) If a paying bank closes voluntarily so that it does not 
receive a cash item on a day that is a banking day for a Reserve Bank, 
and the Reserve Bank makes a cash item available to the paying bank on 
that day, the paying bank is not considered to have received the item 
until its next banking day, but it shall be subject to any applicable 
overdraft charges if it fails to settle for or return the item in 
accordance with paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section. The settlement 
requirements of paragraphs (b)(1) and (b)(2) of this section do not 
apply to a paying bank that settles in accordance with paragraph 
(b)(3)(i) of this section.
    (4) Reserve Bank closed. (i) If a paying bank receives a cash item 
from a Reserve Bank on a banking day that is not a banking day for the 
Reserve Bank, the paying bank shall--
    (A) settle for the item so that the proceeds of the settlement are 
available to its administrative Reserve Bank by the close of Fedwire on 
the Reserve Bank's next banking day, or return the item by midnight of 
the day it receives the item (if the paying bank fails to settle for or 
return a cash item in accordance with this paragraph (b)(4)(i)(A), it 
shall become accountable

[[Page 74046]]

for the amount of the item as of the close of its banking day on the 
day it receives the item); and
    (B) settle for the item so that the proceeds of the settlement are 
available to its administrative Reserve Bank by 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time 
on the Reserve Bank's next banking day or such later time as provided 
in the Reserve Bank's operating circular, or return the item by 
midnight of the day it receives the item. If the paying bank fails to 
settle for or return a cash item in accordance with this paragraph 
(b)(4)(i)(B), it shall be subject to any applicable overdraft charges. 
Settlement under this paragraph (b)(4)(i)(B) satisfies the settlement 
requirements of paragraph (b)(4)(i)(A) of this section.
* * * * *

    By order of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve 
System, November 25, 2013.
Robert deV. Frierson,
Secretary of the Board.
[FR Doc. 2013-28747 Filed 12-9-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P