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The Iowa governor recently signed HF 675 to revise certain provisions of the Uniform Money Transmission Modernization Act. The Act is designed to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden and harmonize the licensing and regulation of money transmitters with other states. Among other things, the Act defines terms for when a state money services business (MSB) license is required and adds a process for joint multistate examination and supervision of MSB licensees. The Act also outlines several exemptions, including federally insured depository institutions and certain persons appointed as an agent of a payee who collect and process payments from a payor to the payee for goods or services (other than money transmission itself).
With respect to licensing provisions, the Act states that a person shall not engage in the business of money transmission unless they are licensed. New provisions modify the licensing process, including by requiring that applications be approved 121 days after completion, unless denied or approved earlier by the superintendent. The license will take effect the first business day after expiration of the 120-day period (although the superintendent may for good cause extend the application period). The Act also outlines licensing application renewal procedures, requirements for maintaining licensure, processes for person(s) seeking to acquire control of a licensee or seeking to change key individuals, authorized delegate provisions, net worth and surety bond criteria, permissible investments, and reporting and financial condition requirements, among other criteria. The Act further specifies that a person who engages in the business of money transmission on behalf of a person not licensed under the chapter “provides money transmission to the same extent as if the person were a licensee, and shall be jointly and severally liable with the unlicensed or nonexempt person.” The Act takes effect July 1.
On May 8, the Maryland governor signed HB 686 to eliminate a requirement that collection agencies and certain non-depository financial institutions must maintain separate licenses for branch locations. The Act now allows such entities to conduct business at multiple licensed locations under a single license. The Act also amends and clarifies other provisions relating to application requirements, licensee information listed in the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry, requirements when using trade names, examinations, Commissioner of Financial Regulation assessments, and surety bond requirements. The Act is effective July 1.
On May 8, the Maryland governor signed HB 913 to amend certain provisions relating to student financing company registration and reporting requirements. Among other things, the Act defines the term “student financing company” to mean “an entity engaged in the business of securing, making, or extending student financing products, or any purchaser, assignee, or holder of student financing products.” Student financing companies seeking to provide services in the state will be required to register with the Commissioner of Financial Regulation beginning March 15, 2024. Additionally, the Act provides that a student financing company seeking to renew its registration on an annual basis may be required to pay a fee at the time of renewal. The Act also authorizes the Commissioner to adopt registration procedures for student financing companies, including the use of the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry, and may impose certain fees for using the registry. Additionally, the Act makes several technical clarifying provisions to the reporting requirements for student financing companies to be filed with the Commissioner annually on or before March 15. Furthermore, on or before June 15, 2024 (and each June 15 thereafter), information reported by the student financing companies will be available on a publicly accessible website to be developed and maintained by the Commissioner. The Act is effective October 1.
On May 4, the Indiana governor signed SB 452 to amend Indiana code governing financial institutions. Among other things, the Act amends a provision to require the Department of Financial Institutions to adopt emergency rules no later than June 30, 2024, to authorize certain licensees (or certain exempt persons aside from a person that has voluntarily registered with the Department) “to sponsor one (1) or more mortgage loan originators, who are not employees of the sponsoring person, to perform mortgage loan originator activities” provided certain criteria is met. Requirements include that (i) each sponsored person performs mortgage loan originator activities exclusively for the sponsoring person (as provided in a written agreement); (ii) the sponsoring person assumes responsibility for and reasonably supervises the activities of each sponsored mortgage loan originator; (iii) the sponsoring person maintains a bond that covers all sponsored mortgage loan originators; and (iv) each sponsored mortgage loan originator possesses a current, valid insurance producer license as required under state law. The emergency rules must meet the requirements of the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008, HUD and CFPB interpretations of that Act, as well as a subsequent amendment provided by the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act.
On May 4, the Indiana governor signed SB 458, which repeals current Indiana code governing the licensing and regulation of money transmitters by the Department of Financial Institutions. The bill adds a new chapter codifying the Money Transmission Modernization Act, and outlines provisions to be administered by the Department’s Division of Consumer Credit. Among other things, the Act is designed to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden and ensure states are able to coordinate in all areas of regulation, licensing, and supervision. The Act will also enforce compliance with applicable state and federal laws, standardize activities subject to or exempt from licensing, and modernize safety and soundness requirements to protect customer funds, while also supporting innovation and competitive business practices. The Act defines terms, outlines exemptions, and establishes authorities for the director who many enter into agreements with other government officials or regulatory agencies/associations to improve efficiencies and reduce regulatory burden. The Department is also granted authority to interpret and enforce the chapter, promulgate rules and regulations, and recover administrative and enforcement costs.
With respect to licensing provisions, the director is authorized to report complaints received concerning licensees, as well as significant or recurring violations, to the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry (NMLS), and may use NMLS for all aspects of licensing, including applications, surety bonds, reporting, background checks, credit checks, fee processing, and examinations. Moreover, the director may also “participate in multistate supervisory processes established between states and coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the Money Transmitter Regulators Association, and the affiliates and successors of either organization, for all licensees that hold licenses in Indiana and other states,” including entering into agreements to coordinate and share information.
The Act outlines licensing application procedures, as well as licensees’ rights, reporting and recordkeeping requirements, examination processes for outside vendors that provide services normally undertaken by the licensee, criminal penalties, surety bonds, permissible investments, authorized delegate provisions, and explains how the Act applies to licensees issued a license under the current statute, among other things. Additionally, licensees are required to pay all costs reasonably incurred in connection with an examination of the licensee or the licensee’s authorized delegate. The Act’s provisions take effect January 1, 2024.
The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation recently released a new opinion letter covering aspects of the California Money Transmission Act (MTA) and the Escrow Act related to persons engaging in business as an escrow agency within the state. The redacted opinion letter examines a request from the inquiring company for confirmation that it does not require either an internet escrow agent license or a money transmitter license in the state of California in connection with its proposed business model (details on the model have been omitted). DFPI responded that under the Escrow Law, “it is unlawful for any person to engage in business as an escrow agent within this state except by means of a corporation duly organized for that purpose licensed by the commissioner as an escrow agent.” The definition of an “internet escrow agent,” DFPI explained, was added to Financial Code section 17003, subdivision (b) to mean “any person engaged in the business of receiving escrows for deposit or delivery over the Internet.” DFPI concluded that based on the facts asserted within the request, the inquiring company has not demonstrated that its proposed model is exempt from the Escrow Law.
DFPI further considered whether the inquiring company’s proposed model meets the definition of stored value under the MTA, and whether it qualifies for several exemptions under the statute. DFPI explained that the transactions under consideration are not considered “stored value under the definition in Financial Code section 2003, subdivision (x), because they do not represent a claim against the issuer; rather, the money comes under [the inquiring company’s] possession and control and therefore must be placed in an escrow trust account. “An escrow trust account is not the same as stored value,” DFPI said, adding that since the transaction is not stored value, it is unnecessary to address the remaining arguments regarding the MTA.
On April 12, the North Dakota governor signed HB 1068, which outlines provisions relating to residential mortgage loan servicers. The Act provides that a person may not engage in residential mortgage loan servicing in the state without being licensed by the commissioner. This applies to servicers, subservicers, or a mortgage servicing rights investor. “A person engages in residential mortgage loan servicing in the state if the borrower resides in North Dakota,” the Act explains. Exempt from licensure are financial institutions, state or federal housing finance agencies, institutions chartered by the farm credit administration, and not-for-profit mortgage servicers. The Act outlines application and fee requirements and specifies financial conditions for applicants and licensees. Large mortgage servicers must also abide by certain corporate governance conditions, including the establishment of a board of directors responsible for oversight and compliance monitoring. These licensees must also obtain external audits and establish risk management programs.
The Act outlines prohibited acts and practices and grants authority to the Department of Financial Institutions to promulgate rules and regulations to enforce the law and power to carry out the provisions, including through orders and injunctions. The commissioner will also oversee the licensure process, including provisions concerning the expiration, renewal, revocation, suspension, and surrender of licenses, and may issue orders suspending and removing residential mortgage loan servicer officers and employees. The commissioner may also conduct investigations and examinations and impose civil money penalties of not more than $100,000 for each occurrence and $1,000 per day for each day that the violation continues after issuance of an order. Licensees may appeal by filing a written notice within 20 days after the assessment of a civil money penalty. The Act is effective August 1.
On April 4, the Tennessee governor signed HB 316 / SB 268 to enact the Money Transmission Modernization Act, the money transmitter model law created by industry and state experts. Provisions under the Act amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 45, and are intended to (i) reduce regulatory burden by promoting coordination among the states in areas of regulation, licensing, and supervision; (ii) protect the public from financial crime; (iii) standardize activities that are subject to, or otherwise exempt from, licensure; and (iv) modernize safety and soundness requirements to protect customer funds while supporting innovative and competitive business practices. Under the Act, persons may not engage in the business of money transmission, or advertise, solicit, or hold themselves out as providing money transmission without being licensed. In addition to exempting federal and state agencies and financial institutions organized under the laws of any state or the United States, the Act now exempts “authorized delegates”—persons designated by a licensee to engage in money transmission on behalf of the licensee, and persons that fall within an outlined exemption, including persons appointed as an agent of the payee.
The Act also provides the commissioner of financial institutions with the authority to exercise various powers, including the use of the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry, and the ability to participate in multistate supervisory processes coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, Money Transmitter Regulator Association, and others for all licensees that hold licenses in Tennessee and other states. While retaining the ability to conduct examinations of licensees, the commissioner may now examine or investigate an authorized delegate. The Act also updates licensee liability requirements related to net worth assets and surety bonds and make various other changes related to audit reports and disclosure permissions. The Act further provides that “[a] person shall not engage in the business of money transmission on behalf of a person not licensed under this chapter or not exempt pursuant to § 45-7-104,” and stipulates that “[a] person that engages in such activity provides money transmission to the same extent as if the person were a licensee, and is jointly and severally liable with the unlicensed or nonexempt person.” The Act takes effect January 1, 2024.
On March 21, the Connecticut Department of Banking fined a collection agency $10,000 and ordered it to cease and desist from collection agency activity for operating without a valid license. According to the order, the company applied for a consumer collection agency license in Connecticut in October 2022. However, during its review of the company’s application, the Department of Banking discovered that the company had been operating as a consumer collection agency without a license in the state since at least 2019. Under the terms of the consent order, the company must pay a civil penalty fine of $10,000, and pay $800 to cover back licensing fees. The company consented to the entry of the sanctions without admitting or denying any wrongdoing “solely for the purpose of obviating the need for further formal administrative proceedings,” the order said.
On March 28, the West Virginia governor signed HB 3203 to amend certain provisions relating to the West Virginia Real Estate License Act, which requires persons engaging, directly or indirectly, in the capacity of a real estate broker, associate broker, or salesperson in the state to be licensed. A license is required “even if the person or entity is licensed in another state and is affiliated or otherwise associated with a licensed real estate broker in [West Virginia].” The changes, among other things, (i) eliminate requirements for certain information to be included on license applications; (ii) modify qualifications for licensure; (iii) clarify and amend requirements for prelicense and continuing education requirements; (iv) modify licensing requirements based on licensure in another jurisdiction or for license certifications issued by the Real Estate Commission (Commission); (v) eliminate certain requirements for persons holding a broker’s license; (vi) clarify language relating to when the Commission “may refuse a license or revoke, suspend, or impose any other sanction against a licensee”; (vii) require a licensee “to disclose in writing whether the licensee represents the seller, the buyer, the seller and the buyer, the landlord, the tenant, or the landlord and the tenant”; and (viii) modify certain provisions relating to complaint procedures, the judicial review of final decisions/orders issued by the Commission, criminal penalties, and suits for the collection of compensation. The amendments take effect 90 days from passage.