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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • Wisconsin enacts update to Department of Financial Institutions’ licensing and regulation of mortgage and non-mortgage financial services providers

    On April 4, Wisconsin enacted SB 668 (the “Act”) which will amend many provisions to the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institution’s (DFI) regulation of non-banks. According to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Reference Bureau, the Act will change how multiple financial practices are regulated and rely on the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry (NMLSR). The Act will allow Wisconsin to use the NMLSR to administer licensing needs concerning consumer lenders, payday lenders, collection agencies, sales finance companies, money transmitters, mortgage bankers and brokers, adjustment service companies, community currency exchanges, and insurance premium finance companies. The amendments were modeled after the Model Money Transmission Modernization Act approved by the CSBS.

    The Act will require licensees to provide information directly to the NMLSR. For collection agencies, the act will eliminate the requirement that a collector hold a separate license from the one held by his employer, update the definition of collection agency to add the exception for mortgage bankers, and require separate collection agency licenses for each place of business, among others – including repeals. As to consumer lenders, the Act will better define consumer loans, specify provisions governing licensed lenders, and specify which activities require licensure. With respect to sellers of checks and money transmitters, the Reference Bureau noted three provisions governing licensing and regulation of money transmitters will be replaced by the Model Money Transmission Modernization Act. This will include making a license through the NMLSR; granting the power to suspend, revoke, or refuse renewal of a license to the Wisconsin DFI; and allowing a licensed money transmitter to conduct business through an authorized delegate; among others. The Act also updated NMLSR requirements and DFI powers concerning payday lenders, sales finance companies, adjustment service companies, community currency exchanges, and insurance premium finance companies. 

    Licensing State Issues State Legislation NMLS Money Service / Money Transmitters Nonbank

  • Kentucky enacts two bills: one on unlawful trade practices and another on mortgage liens

    State Issues

    On April 9, Kentucky enacted HB 488 (the “Bill”) which will establish when a county clerk admits any amendment, renewal, modification, or extension of a recorded mortgage to record. The Bill will also establish when a county clerk admits affidavits of amendment prepared and executed by an attorney to record. Additionally, the Bill will establish recording requirements and a section to establish when a promise, acknowledgment, or payment of money operates as an extension of a lien in a recorded mortgage or deed. Finally, the Bill establishes recording requirements for extensions on a lien in a recorded mortgage or deed.

    On April 4, Kentucky also enacted HB 88 (the “Act”) which will amend provisions related to unlawful trade practices, prohibiting (i) entities that are not banks or trust companies from implying that they are engaged in banking or trust activities, and (ii) entities to use in their marketing materials the name, trademark, logo or symbol of any financial institution or similarly resembling any financial institution, with exceptions for permitted use or disclosure of non-consent.

    The Act will also state that residential real property service agreements cannot give rise to rights or obligations lasting longer than two years after their effective date. Additionally, barring exceptions, service agreements cannot (i) be enforceable on future owners of interests in the residential real property or otherwise purport to remain attached to the property; (ii) create or impose a lien, encumbrance, or other real property interest on the residential real property; or (iii) require or permit recording of the agreement or any notice or memorandum of the agreement, among other things. 

    State Issues Kentucky Mortgages State Legislation Real Estate

  • Kentucky makes wholesale amendments to its financial services code

    State Issues

    On April 9, the Governor of Kentucky signed into law HB 726, an act that will make substantial amendments to the state’s regulation of financial services under Chapter 286 of the Kentucky Financial Services Code. Of note, the act will update key definitions under the state’s financial services code, including “Bank,” “Company,” “Control,” and “Deposit.” Some of the changes will amend certain powers to the financial commissioner, an appointed position by the Governor, as well as the banking experience requirements for this position. The act also, among other things, addresses in- and out-of-state trust company rules; banking activities rules for foreign and out-of-state financial companies; bank mergers and reviews by the commissioner; bank closures; bank loan compliance under 12 U.S.C. sec. 371c (prohibiting acceptance of a security from a bank’s affiliate); the commissioner’s rules to remove any officer, director, or employee of a bank via written notice; and mortgage loan license fees, including annual assessments.

    State Issues State Legislation Kentucky Financial Services Bank Regulatory

  • FDIC wins dismissal as defendant in NSF fee challenge


    On April 8, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota granted the FDIC’s motion to dismiss in a case brought by a trade association and a commercial bank challenging the FDIC’s guidance related to insufficient fund fees (NSF fees). Specifically, the plaintiffs challenged the FDIC’s Financial Institution Letter 32 (FIL 32) as a “legislative rule promulgated without adherence to essential administrative procedures,” and asked the court to permanently enjoin FIL 32 and declare it invalid. As previously covered by InfoBytes, FIL 32 warned financial institutions against charging customers multiple NSF fees on the same unpaid transaction – something the FDIC stated could be an “unsafe or unsound practice.” The plaintiffs alleged four violations of the Administrative Procedure Act: (i) the FDIC allegedly implemented FIL 32 without the APA’s required notice and comment period; (ii) FIL 32 was an arbitrary and capricious agency action; (iii) the FDIC exceeded its statutory authority by attempting to define an unfair or deceptive act or practice under the FTC Act; and (iv) the FDIC violated its own regulations in releasing FIL 32 since “those regulations prohibit enforcement actions based on supervisory guidance.” The FDIC moved to dismiss all counts, arguing that FIL 32 was not arbitrary and capricious, and that the FDIC acted within its authority. The court agreed that FIL 32 was not a final agency action, that the plaintiffs lacked standing and dismissed the case without prejudice.

    Courts FDIC NSF Fees Bank Regulatory

  • 5th Circuit reverses District Court’s decision to transfer credit card late fee case from Texas to Washington, D.C.


    On April 5, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas lacked jurisdiction to transfer a case challenging a CFPB rulemaking to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The 5th Circuit’s decision did not examine whether the transfer order was proper, but rather whether the court had jurisdiction to enter it. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas granted the CFPB a change of venue on March 28 because only one of the six plaintiffs resided in Fort Worth. The 5th Circuit found that the lower court erred by granting the CFPB’s motion to change venues instead of ruling on the plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction. The plaintiffs filed a writ of mandamus and argued the lower court “abused its discretion” by transferring the case while the plaintiffs’ appeal was outstanding, and that the lower court did not have jurisdiction to order the transfer. The 5th Circuit agreed and ruled that once a party appeals a district court’s decision, the district court “has zero jurisdiction to do anything” to change the case. The 5th Circuit granted the plaintiffs’ petition of mandamus, vacated the district court’s transfer order, and ordered the district court to reopen the case.

    This case has been brought by multiple trade organizations to challenge the CFPB’s attempt to alter the structure and amount of credit card late fees through its alleged authority under the CARD Act, as covered by InfoBytes here

    Courts Credit Cards Overdrafts Fees Junk Fees CFPB

  • FDIC releases comprehensive report on international, systemically important banks

    On April 10, the FDIC released a report on the FDIC’s plans and readiness to step in as a receiver for a financial company under Title II of the Dodd-Frank Act. The FDIC Chairman said this report was the “most detailed description to date of the FDIC’s preparedness to use its Title II resolution authority.”

    The report provided background on resolution-related authorities under Dodd-Frank, highlighted key measures that provided readiness of resolution under Title II authority, reviewed strategic decision-making for the use of such authority, and explained how the Commission expects to undertake a Title II resolution of a Global Systematically Important U.S. Bank (GSIB) using a Single Point of Entry (SPOE) resolution strategy. FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said that such a resolution “will be a challenging process under any circumstance, with a number of steps that need to be taken quickly and in close coordination with a range of stakeholders.”

    Under the SPOE resolution strategy, the FDIC would place only the holding company of the GSIB into receivership. The FDIC then would establish a bridge financial company under its control and would transfer the operating subsidiaries to the bridge institution. The bridge institution and its subsidiaries would remain operating while the FDIC performed its receivership duties, including the claims process. The final stage of GSIB receivership would be the implementation of a restructuring and wind-down plan that would aim to maintain value, address the causes of the failure, and transition operations. Chairman Gruenberg also noted that orderly resolution of a GSIB has not been executed before, “so there will be questions on whether it can be done.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues FDIC Liquidity

  • FDIC releases bank report on its past discriminatory lending practices

    On April 3, the FDIC made public for the first time its Community Reinvestment Act Performance Evaluation for a bank from September 2022. The bank focused on residential and commercial lending and had $1.15 billion in assets at the time of the review. During its supervision window from 2019 to 2022, the FDIC rated the bank’s CRA rating as “Needs to Improve,” which was a downgrade from its previous rating of “Satisfactory.” Although the FDIC found that the bank “demonstrated satisfactory performance” under the Lending and Community Development Tests, it was found to have violated ECOA and FHFA. Specifically, the FDIC found that the bank engaged in discriminatory lending through alleged redlining practices, the FDIC deemed. The FDIC noted that these violations occurred due to a lack of sufficient oversight and appropriate policies and procedures. 

    Bank Regulatory Discrimination Fair Lending Supervision ECOA FHFA CRA

  • CFPB reports on consumer reporting companies’ lack of compliance

    Federal Issues

    On April 8, the CFPB released its Supervisory Highlights on consumer reporting companies (CRC) and furnishers from April to December 2023. With respect to CRCs, the CFPB found deficiencies related to (i) placing identity theft blocks on consumer reports, (ii) blocking adverse items identified by a consumer as the result of human trafficking, and (iii) the accuracy of information in consumer reports.

    For identity theft, the CFPB noted that some CRCs automatically declined to implement identity theft blocks based on overly broad, disqualifying criteria that did not support a reasonable determination, in violation of the FCRA. CRCs also failed to properly notify these customers that they declined these identity blocks. 

    Regulation V required CRCs to block adverse items of information identified by a consumer from human trafficking. While CRCs must block these items within four business days of such request, the CFPB found CRCs either failed to timely block these items or that CRCs blocked some, but not all such items. 

    In failing to ensure the maximum possible accuracy of consumer reports, the CFPB found that CRCs (i) inadequately monitored dispute metrics that may suggest a furnisher would not a reliable source of information about consumers, and (ii) failed to implement procedures to ensure the accuracy of information provided by unreliable furnishers and continued to include such information in reports.

    With respect to furnishers, the CFPB similarly found deficiencies in accuracy, dispute investigation, and identity theft requirements. Specifically, CFPB examiners found that furnishers reported incomplete or inaccurate information for several months or even years after determining the information was incomplete or inaccurate. Additionally, furnishers that received direct disputes both continued to report such information and failed to notify CRCs of the disputed information. The report also noted that furnishers who received proper identity theft reports continued to furnish information regarding the consumer before confirming the accuracy of the information with the consumer.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Reporting Consumer Reporting Agency FCRA Regulation V

  • CFPB reaches toward in-game video game market and its consumer protection issues

    Federal Issues

    On April 4, the CFPB released a report titled “Banking in video games and virtual worlds” that examined the gaming industry and the consumer financial systems that affect it. The Bureau’s report identified three key findings: (i) a network of financial products and services has entered the gaming industry to leverage and support the transfer of gaming assets and currency; (ii) the increased value of these assets has led to an increase of hacking attempts, account theft, scams, and unauthorized transactions; and (iii) the consumer data collected by gaming companies was bought, sold, and traded between companies, which can pose a risk to gaming customers. As a result, the CFPB will intend to monitor these issues in gaming and other such non-traditional markets to ensure companies comply with federal consumer financial protection laws.

    The report noted that the proliferation of gaming and the evolution of the industry to offering in-game purchases and gaming assets has created the need for an infrastructure to enable fiat currency to flow into and out of games and virtual worlds. This can include transactions within the game, trading virtual items with other players, buying products on secondary markets, converting gaming assets to traditional currency, withdrawals of that currency, and/or using third parties to convert and withdraw the currency. As a result, companies have established financial products and services that increasingly resemble traditional financial products, like loans, payment processing, and money transmission. 

    In addition to the gaming economy creating a relatively new and unregulated financial marketplace, the Bureau identified additional risks similar to those found in the traditional market surrounding fraud, identity theft, money laundering, and privacy. For example, the report noted that these highly valuable gaming assets have made player accounts vulnerable to phishing and hacking attempts as well as unauthorized transactions. However, efforts by the FTC or CFPB to address complaints related to this activity have been met with a “buyer beware” approach by gaming companies. 

    Further, gaming companies collect a significant amount of data on players as a way to personalize the experience.  However, the companies use this data to monetize gameplay to entice more spending as well as buy, sell and trade this data. The report noted that (i) the use of personal data can result in highly individualized pricing and (ii) the storage and transfer of consumer data poses privacy risks for gamers. In light of these various issues, the CFPB plans to work with other agencies to monitor both these non-traditional financial products and services as well as the companies that collect and sell sensitive consumer data.

    Federal Issues CFPB Consumer Protection Video Games Digital Wallets

  • UK financial regulators issue new authority on securities “sandbox”


    On April 3, the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England released a consultation paper seeking comments on their proposal to implement the Digital Securities Sandbox (DSS), a new regime for financial firms to work on a testing ground for new technologies regarding digital assets. The goal of this testing ground would allow these firms to better issue, trade, and settle digital securities. The U.K. regulators believed that using securities on distributed ledgers (i.e., digital securities) has the potential to consolidate trade functions and reduce settlement times, reducing risk and streamlining processes. The DSS would oversee developing financial technologies, such as distributed ledger technology (DLT), during security trading. The three aims of the DSS would include promoting a safe and efficient financial system by removing potential barriers, protecting financial stability using DLT, and promoting market integrity. The securities regulated by the DSS include equities, bonds, money market instruments, and emissions allowances; however, unbacked cryptocurrencies (e.g., bitcoin) would remain outside the scope. The first sandbox entrants are expected after fall 2024.   

    Securities Of Interest to Non-US Persons UK Digital Assets


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