Online lenders and other so-called fintech firms — including the payment processor Square, the online lender Lending Club and the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase — have pressed for regulatory routes that would let them cut through the thicket of state and federal laws that govern financial businesses.

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The federal government began clearing a path Tuesday for online lenders and payment companies to more easily and directly compete with traditional banks, a change that one regulator said would allow innovative businesses to expand nationwide.

Online lenders and other so-called fintech firms — including the payment processor Square, the online lender Lending Club and the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase — have pressed for regulatory routes that would let them cut through the thicket of state and federal laws that govern financial businesses.

Heeding those requests, the Treasury Department released a 222-page report laying out the Trump administration’s view on how nonbank financial companies should be regulated. Hours later, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a national bank regulator, announced a new kind of charter that would potentially free such companies from the state-by-state approvals they currently need to offer loans and other financial products.

The agency had been considering the idea of a national charter for more than two years. Joseph Otting, the comptroller of the currency, said his office would immediately begin accepting applications.

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“Companies that provide banking services in innovative ways deserve the opportunity to pursue that business on a national scale,” Otting said.

But legal challenges are almost certain. The Conference of State Bank Supervisors sued the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency last year to block such an action, but its case was dismissed because a charter had not yet been created. On Tuesday, it said the agency had exceeded its authority.

John Ryan, the president of the conference, called the charter “a regulatory train wreck in the making.” Decisions on charters would place the federal government in the business of picking “winners and losers in the marketplace,” he said. “And taxpayers would be exposed to a new risk: failed fintechs.”

The new charter is available only to companies that do not take and hold deposits. Applicants will be required to prove that they have the capital and liquidity needed to carry out their plans and adequate security technology and internal controls to protect their customers and comply with financial laws.