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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • CSBS announces first MSB Accreditation

    State Issues

    On September 28, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced that the Ohio Division of Financial Institutions received its first Money Service Business (MSB) Accreditation. According to the announcement, the MSB Accreditation—which is offered by CSBS together with the Money Transmitter Regulators Association—certifies that the “state has the resources and necessary processes in place to ensure MSBs in that state operate safely and soundly, follow BSA/AML standards and abide by state and federal consumer protection laws.”

    The Accreditation is part of the CSBS Vision 2020 program. Find continuing InfoBytes coverage on CSBS Vision 2020 here.

    State Issues Money Service / Money Transmitters State Regulator Vision 2020 Licensing CSBS Fintech

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  • CSBS announces single exam for money transmitters

    State Issues

    On September 15, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced the launch of a single, streamlined examination for money transmitters operating nationwide (i.e., in 40 or more states), known as “MSB Networked Supervision.” The single exam—which will apply to “78 of the nation’s largest payments and cryptocurrency companies”—will be led by one state overseeing a group of examiners sourced from around the country. MSB Networked Supervision is a result of recommendations from the CSBS Fintech Industry Advisory Panel and CSBS Vision 2020 (covered by InfoBytes here).

    State Issues Money Service / Money Transmitters State Regulator Examination Supervision Vision 2020 Licensing CSBS Fintech

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  • California DBO addresses MTA licensing exemptions

    State Issues

    Last month the California Department of Business Oversight (CDBO) released two new opinion letters covering aspects of the California Money Transmission Act (MTA) related to the sale of foreign currency and the agent of the payee exemption.

    • Sale of Foreign Currency. The redacted opinion letter concludes that the company’s banknote replenishment service does not trigger the licensing requirements of the MTA because the company does not engage in “selling  or receiving payment instruments, selling or receiving stored value, or receiving money for transmission.” Moreover, the CDBO determined that the company “does not issue anything to the business except for the foreign currency that was ordered, and does not receive money from the business for purpose of transmission.” 
    • Agent of Payee Exemption - Payment Processing Service. The redacted opinion letter concludes that neither the company’s pay-in services nor pay-out services are exempt from the MTA. According to the letter, the company provides payment processing services to online gaming operators (merchants), which allow the merchants’ customers to submit payments to engage in online gaming, such as sports betting and daily fantasy sports betting. The CDBO determined that the pay-in and pay-out services provided by the company “constitute ‘receiving money for transmission,’” as required for the MTA to apply, because the company “receives money from the [c]ustomers for transfer to the [m]erchants” for the pay-in service and “receives money from the [m]erchants for transfer to the [c]ustomers” for the pay-out service.  However, the agent of the payee exemption does not apply to the pay-in services, despite an agreement that establishes the company as the merchant’s agent, because the funds received by the company are not owed to the merchant when they are received by the company. Instead, such funds are retained in an account for the benefit of the merchant until a gambling debt is owed to the merchant. For the pay-out services, the exemption does not apply because the merchant’s customer does not provide any goods or services to the merchant for which the merchant’s payment to the customer is owed. The CDBO also advised that some of the proposed payments described in the company’s request may involve sports betting, which is an illegal activity in the state, and cautioned that the opinion “applies only to activities that are currently legal in California and does not relieve [the company] from its obligation to comply with other applicable state and federal laws.” Furthermore, the CDBO stated that MTA licenses cannot be issued to companies engaged in the transmission of money to facilitate unlawful activities.

    State Issues Licensing California Money Service / Money Transmitters State Regulator CDBO California Money Transmission Act

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  • Kansas extends remote work guidance for certain licensees

    State Issues

    On August 27, the Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner extended its remote work guidance, previously covered here and here, for mortgage companies, mortgage loan originators, supervised loan licensees, credit services organizations, money transmitters, and credit notification registrants. Licensed or registered individuals and entities are permitted to work from their residences or a company designated location, provided certain requirements are met, through December 31, 2020.

    State Issues Covid-19 Kansas Licensing Mortgages Mortgage Origination Loan Origination Credit Services Business Money Service / Money Transmitters

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  • Hawaii regulator extends guidance permitting licensees to reduce office hours, temporarily close

    State Issues

    On August 13, the Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions extended, until September 30, 2020, interim guidance permitting licensees with locations in Hawaii to reduce hours or close offices during Hawaii’s Covid-19 emergency period. Consistent with the previous guidance, covered here, financial institutions and escrow depositories are required to provide notice of closures or reductions in hours. While mortgage loan originators, mortgage servicers, and money transmitters are not required to provide notice, the regulator requests a courtesy notification of any closure or reduction in hours.

    State Issues Covid-19 Hawaii Licensing Financial Institutions Escrow Mortgages Mortgage Origination Mortgage Servicing Money Service / Money Transmitters

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  • California DBO opinion letters cover activities exempt from MTA licensing

    State Issues

    The California Department of Business Oversight (CDBO) released several opinion letters issued throughout the summer covering virtual currency and agent of payee rules under the California Money Transmission Act (MTA). Highlights from the redacted letters include:

    • Cryptocurrency - Escrow Accounts and Exchanges. The redacted opinion letter states that the CDBO has not yet determined whether cryptocurrencies are a form of money that triggers the application of the MTA and therefore, a business model that operates brokerage accounts using cryptocurrency exchanges would not need to be licensed and supervised under the MTA. As for a business model that the letter describes as a third-party repurchase transaction related to borrowing and lending cryptocurrency, the CDBO reminds the company that the activity may still be subject to California Escrow Law.
    • Agent of Payee Exemption - Payment Processing Service. The redacted opinion letter concludes that the company’s payment processing services—which use mobile applications or card readers to capture customer information through merchants, and the payment funds flow first from the customer to the company, and then from the company to the merchant—“fall within the definition of ‘money transmission’ but are exempt from the MTA to the extent [the company], acting as the [m]erchant’s agent, receives money from [c]ustomers, via the relevant card company, as payment for goods or services.”
    • Online Foreign Currency Exchange Service. The redacted opinion letter concludes the company’s online foreign currency exchange service is not subject to licensure under the MTA, because the service does not “involve ‘payment instruments’ or ‘stored value’” and there is no indication that the company would “receive money for transmission,” as customers would use the service to purchase foreign currency “like other online retail purchases.”
    • Exemption for Operator of Payment System. The redacted opinion letter notes that California governmental entities are exempt from the MTA, and a company that provides payment processing services to facilitate the transfer from a California Department of Correction detainee’s cash at a detention facility to that detention facility’s bank account, is exempt from the MTA because it is processing payments between or among persons exempt from the MTA.
    • MTA - Agent of Payee. The redacted opinion letter states that the company’s transactions by an agent of a merchant to collect funds from the merchant’s customer for payment of goods and services are exempt from the requirements of the MTA. The company is acting as an agent of the payee when a company is receiving money as an agent of a merchant pursuant to a preexisting written contract, and delivery of the money to the company satisfies the customer’s obligation to the merchant for a good or service provided by the merchant.
    • Sending Instructions Not Money Transmission. The redacted opinion letter states that the company’s actions do not constitute money transmission under the MTA because “[the company] never ‘receives money for transmission.’” The company only “receives instructions from consumers and merchants to transmit money to each other and forwards these instructions for processing by their respective banks on the ACH network.” Because the banks are “solely responsible for payment and settlement in accordance with these instructions” the company’s payment system does not require an MTA license.

    State Issues Licensing California Money Service / Money Transmitters Virtual Currency California Money Transmission Act CDBO

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  • Colorado governor permits further extensions of money transmitter and real estate broker licenses

    State Issues

    On July 19, the Colorado governor issued Executive Order 2020 141, which extends Executive Order D 2020 015, as amended by several earlier orders, until August 18, 2020. Executive Order D 2020 015 authorizes the Department of Regulatory Agencies to promulgate and issue emergency rules extending the expiration date of licenses issued by the Division of Banking for money transmitters and licenses issued by the Division of Real Estate for real estate brokers.

    State Issues Covid-19 Colorado Money Service / Money Transmitters Mortgages Real Estate Mortgage Broker Broker-Dealer Mortgage Licensing Licensing Fintech

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  • State Issues, Covid-19, District of Columbia, Consumer Credit, Credit Report, Consumer Finance

    State Issues

    On July 7, the Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner again extended its remote work guidance for mortgage companies, mortgage loan originators, supervised loan licenses, credit service organizations, money transmitters, and credit notification registrations, previously covered here. With the update, working from home is permitted through September 15.

    State Issues Covid-19 Kansas Mortgages Mortgage Origination Licensing Consumer Credit Money Service / Money Transmitters Bank Compliance

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  • Florida Office of Financial Regulation issues emergency order regarding certain filing deadlines

    State Issues

    On June 26, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation issued Emergency Order 2020-04, which extends filing deadlines for certain licenses. Specifically, any deadlines falling in May 2020 for mortgage brokers and lenders to file mortgage call reports, money services businesses to file quarterly reports, and for both to file financial reports have been suspended and tolled for a period of 30 days from the existing filing deadlines, unless extended by subsequent order. Additionally, the deadline occurring in the months of March, April, or May for any holder of a securities registration to file an annual updating amendment or financial statement is suspended and tolled through June 30, 2020, unless extended by subsequent order.

    State Issues Covid-19 Florida Licensing Mortgage Broker Mortgages Mortgage Lenders Money Service / Money Transmitters Securities

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  • OCC: National banks do not need state money transmitter licenses to exercise fiduciary powers

    Federal Issues

    In June, the OCC posted an interpretive letter to establish that a national bank, subject to certain limits established by 12 U.S.C. § 92a and 12 C.F.R. part 9, may exercise fiduciary powers in any state without obtaining a state money transmitter license. Interpretive Letter #1167 responds to a request for clarification as to whether a bank, whose fiduciary powers are derived from and governed by the National Bank Act and OCC regulations, is required to obtain a state money transmitter license or exemption in order to exercise its fiduciary capacity. The OCC determined that under 12 U.S.C. § 92a, national banks are authorized to act in specific fiduciary capacities “and any other fiduciary capacity permitted for state institutions when acting in the capacity is not in contravention of state law.” The OCC noted that while a national bank’s fiduciary capacities are determined by reference to state law, 12 U.S.C. § 92a (i) “imposes no geographic limits on where a national bank with fiduciary powers may act in a fiduciary capacity”; and (ii) “does not limit where a national bank may market its fiduciary activities, where its fiduciary customers may be located, or where the property being administered may be located.” As such, a national bank may conduct federally authorized fiduciary activities in any state, even if aspects of the bank’s activities fall within a state’s definition of money transmission and the bank is not licensed as a money transmitter in that state. According to the OCC, state laws that are intended to impose licensing requirements on a national bank’s exercise of fiduciary powers are preempted and satisfaction of an exemption from those requirements is not required. However, the OCC cautioned that “[d]ifferent facts and circumstances or consideration of different laws and regulations could result in a different conclusion.”

    Federal Issues OCC Money Service / Money Transmitters Licensing State Issues

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