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Volume XI, Number 175

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Don't Bank On Using "Bank" In A URL

About eight years ago, I wrote about Section 201(a) of the California Corporations Code which prohibits the Secretary of State from filing articles of incorporation  setting forth a name in which “bank,” “ trust,” “trustee,” or related words appear, unless a certificate of approval of the Commissioner of Financial Protection & Innovation is attached thereto.  The statute quite clearly does not prohibit a corporation from using the word "bank" in its business.

Chime Financial Inc. quite obviously doesn't use "bank" as part of its name.  However, Chime used "Chimebank.com" as URL address until February of last year when the DFPI came knocking.  The DFPI found that the use of "Chimebank.com" violated Section 561 of the Financial Code.  That statute does not absolutely forbid the use of the word "bank" but it does generally forbid use of the corporate or artificial names or words suggesting that a person is a bank or engaged in banking:

 No person who has not received a certificate from the commissioner authorizing it to engage in the banking business shall advertise that it is accepting deposits, and issuing notes or certificates therefore, or make use of any office sign, at the place where its business is transacted, having thereon any artificial or corporate name, or other words indicating that the place or office is the place or office of a bank or trust company, that deposits are received there or payments made on checks, or any other form of banking business is transacted, nor shall any person make use of or circulate any letterheads, billheads, blank notes, blank receipts, certificates, or circulars, or any written or printed paper, whatever, having thereon any artificial or corporate name or other words indicating that the business is the business of a bank or trust company, or transact business in a way or manner as to lead the public to believe that its business is that of a bank or trust company, except to the extent expressly authorized by this division.

Chime ultimately settled with the DFPI by agreeing to, among other things, the entry of cease and desist order prohibiting it from using the name “chimebank.com” in its business unless and until it becomes licensed or otherwise authorized to engage in the business of banking under the laws.   

© 2010-2021 Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 134
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About this Author

Keith Paul Bishop, Corporate Transactions Lawyer, finance securities attorney, Allen Matkins Law Firm
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Keith Bishop works with privately held and publicly traded companies on federal and state corporate and securities transactions, compliance, and governance matters. He is highly-regarded for his in-depth knowledge of the distinctive corporate and regulatory requirements faced by corporations in the state of California.

While many law firms have a great deal of expertise in federal or Delaware corporate law, Keith’s specific focus on California corporate and securities law is uncommon. A former California state regulator of securities and financial institutions, Keith has decades of...

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