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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB issues final remittance rule extending safe harbor and providing compliance exceptions

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Remittance Remittance Transfer Rule EFTA

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On May 11, the CFPB issued final amendments to the Remittance Transfer Rule (Final Rule), which implements the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and imposes requirements on insured institutions that handle international money transfers—also known as remittance transfers—on behalf of consumers. The Final Rule follows a notice of proposed rulemaking issued last December (covered by InfoBytes here). Among other things, the Final Rule grants a permanent safe harbor from exact remittance cost disclosures to insured institutions that do fewer than 500 remittances annually in the current and prior calendar years.

The Final Rule also addresses anticipated compliance challenges following the July 21 expiration of an existing exemption that allows certain insured institutions to disclose estimated exchange rates and third-party money transfer fees. Specifically, the Final Rule adopts a new, permanent exception that permits insured institutions to estimate the exchange rate for a remittance transfer to a particular country if, among other things, the remittance payment is made in the local currency of the designated recipient’s country and the insured institution processing the transaction made 1,000 or fewer remittance payments to that country in the previous calendar year. A second permanent exception will allow insured institutions to estimate covered third-party fees for remittance transfers to a recipient’s institution provided, among other things, the insured institution made 500 or fewer remittance transfers to the recipient’s institution in the prior calendar year. While the adopted final amendments will take effect July 21, the Bureau is adopting a transition period for both exceptions that will allow insured institutions that exceed the 1000-transfer or 500-transfer thresholds to “provide estimates for a reasonable period of time while they come into compliance with the requirement to provide exact amounts.”

The Bureau also reminded institutions of its April 10 policy statement (covered by InfoBytes here), which established a temporary exception allowing institutions providing remittance transfers to estimate these fees to consumers in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. From July 1 until January 21, 2021, the Bureau will not cite supervisory violations or initiate enforcement actions against certain institutions for disclosing estimated fees and exchange rates.