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The Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions issued guidance indicating that it will temporarily permit licensees with locations in Hawaii to reduce hours or close offices during Hawaii’s Covid-19 Emergency Period. The guidance clarifies that financial institutions and escrow depositories are required to provide notice of closures or reductions in hours to the Division and to customers as soon as practicable. While mortgage loan originators, mortgage servicers, and money transmitters are not required to provide notice, the Division requests a courtesy notification of any closure or reduction in hours, and mortgage loan originator branch managers must post signage at the branch office.
Arkansas Securities Department provides relief from regulatory deadlines and guidance on notarization
On April 1, the Arkansas Securities Department issued guidance providing relief from certain regulatory deadlines to licensed money services businesses and mortgage companies. The department is providing a 60-day extension to file financial statements and a 30-day extension to submit Call Reports and the MCR Standard Financial Condition Reports. Further, the guidance provides that licensed entities are authorized to use real-time audio and visual means to witness the signing of a legal document so long as the identity and physical presence of any and all witnesses and signers in Arkansas are validated at the time of execution of the document by real-time audio or visual means.
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation issues notice to currency exchange and money transmitter licensees
On March 30, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (Department) issued a notice encouraging currency exchange and money transmitter licensees to provide the Department with advance notice of any changes to their usual business practices. The Department expects all licensees to act responsibly and proactively to address any consumer harm that may arise.
On March 26, the Idaho Department of Finance issued a memorandum to Idaho money transmitter licensees and applicants regarding agency operations and communications due to Covid-19. The memorandum includes information on the Department’s teleworking arrangements and notes that routine examinations of registered entities and agents have been suspended. Registration staff continues to process licensing/registration applications through the CRD/IARD/NMLS systems and U.S. mail. In line with the NMLS Policy committee’s decisions and recommendations, the Department has also extended deadlines by 60 days for the filing of certain reports and statements.
On March 25, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NMLS Policy Committee extended the deadline for certain reporting obligations satisfied through NMLS, and the enrollment window for taking the SAFE MLO test.
Companies required to submit financial statements, the Mortgage Call Report, and the Money Services Businesses Call Report will have an additional 60 days from pre-established deadlines to submit such reports. Individuals will have the testing window on their test appointments extended 180 days.
The NMLS Resource Center has been updated with additional resources to provide updates on state agency operating status. In addition, the NMLS Policy Committee is encouraging states to accept documentation electronically that otherwise may have been required in hard copy.
The full announcement can be found on the NMLS Resource Center.
On March 16, the Kansas Office of the State Bank Commissioner (OSBC) issued temporary guidance allowing licensed mortgage companies, mortgage loan originators, supervised loan licensees, credit services organizations, money transmitters, credit notification registrants and their employees to work remotely due to the Covid-19 crisis. Licensed or registered individuals and entites will be allowed to work from their residences or a company designated location--even if the residence or location is not a licensed or registered branch location--providing they have temporary policies, procedures, and a plan for supervision in place. OSBC also set forth best practices for remote work to ensure that security of information is maintained.
On February 25, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) issued a second request for comments on its draft model law language for money services businesses (MSB Model Law)—a primary part of CSBS’s Vision 2020 initiatives, which are intended to modernize state regulation of non-banks and fintech firms. (Vision 2020 InfoBytes coverage is available here.) According to CSBS, the draft MSB Model Law is comprised of “an integrated, 50-state licensing and supervisory system that recognizes standards across state lines.” As previously covered by InfoBytes, last October CSBS requested comments on the draft MSB Model Law language focusing on issue areas identified by the Fintech Industry Advisory Panel—Control, Activity and Exemption Definitions, Safety & Soundness, and Supervision. To finalize the areas of control and supervision, CSBS is seeking a second round of comments by March 11 to address the following issues identified from comments received during the first round.
- The industry expressed implementation concerns, with several parties noting, “that CSBS has no authority to implement the MSB Model Law in individual states and utilizing NMLS to drive consistency could compound differences between states.”
- The proposed control language failed to address uncertainty over the identification of control persons. Moreover, “attempts to exclude passive investors [did] not achieve the intended results.”
- The industry strongly suggested that parity language contained in the draft MSB Model Law—designed to facilitate state adoption—“was overly broad and would create uncertainty if used.”
- Definitions and exemptions fell short on several critical issues.
- The existence of proponents and detractors of both the safety and soundness proposals signaled a divergence within the industry as to the appropriate safeguards for customer funds.
CSBS notes that the MSB Model Law language will help harmonize operations between states. After the comment period ends, CSBS will prioritize the MSB Model Law for release, with control and coordination language expected to be released in the second quarter of 2020, followed by activities and exemption definitions in May. CSBS also plans to work with states and the industry on safety and soundness language, which may be released as early as August.
On January 7, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) released a report by its Fintech Industry Advisory Panel outlining progress made on several initiatives to streamline state licensing and supervision of financial technology companies. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the panel was convened in 2017 as part of Vision 2020—a state regulator initiative to modernize the regulation of fintech companies and other non-banks by creating an integrated, 50-state system of licensing and supervision. The Accountability Report charts progress on initiatives identified by the panel, which, according to the announcement, fit into four focus areas: (i) the use of CSBS regtech for licensing and exams, including expanding the use of NMLS among states across all license types for nonbank financial services, developing “state licensing requirements for multi-state consistency,” and launching a new state examination system; (ii) improved consistency among states, including 26 states signing on to the Multistate Money Service Business (MSB) Licensing Agreement, which is intended to streamline the MSB licensing process; (iii) the creation of uniform definitions and practices and the development of a 50-state MSB model law and state accreditation programs for MSBs, which will encourage greater consistency among states; and (iv) increased regulatory transparency, including online resources for state guidance and exemptions, as well as information sessions with regulators and industry to discuss fintech developments.
On December 4, FinCEN announced the release of a Financial Trend Analysis titled, “Elders Face Increased Financial Threat from Domestic and Foreign Actors.” In compiling the report, FinCEN reviewed Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) elder financial exploitation suspicious activity reports (SARs) from 2013 to 2019 to detect patterns and trends. Among other things, the study found that (i) elder financial exploitation filings nearly tripled during the study period, from around 2,000 per month in 2013 to nearly 7,500 in 2019, the majority of which were filed by money services businesses (MSBs) and depository institutions; (ii) while the amount of SARs filed by MSBs ebbed and flowed from 2013 to 2019, those of depository institutions steadily increased; (iii) MSBs filed nearly 80 percent of all SARs describing financial scams, while securities and futures firms filed just over 70 percent of all SARs describing theft; (iv) financial theft from elders is most frequently perpetrated by family members or caregivers; (v) SARs indicated that the most common scams included lottery, person-in-need, and romance scams, the majority of which saw elder victims transferring funds through MSBs; and (vi) money transfer scam SARs were most commonly filed by MSBs who transferred money to a receiver located outside the U.S.
On November 15, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director Kenneth Blanco delivered remarks at the Chainalysis Blockchain Symposium to discuss, among other things, the agency’s focus on convertible virtual currency (CVC) and remind attendees—particularly financial institutions—of their compliance obligations. Specifically, Blanco emphasized that FinCEN applies a “technology-neutral regulatory framework to any activity that provides the same functionality at the same level of risk, regardless of its label.” As such, money transmissions denominated in CVC, Blanco stated, are money transmissions. Blanco discussed guidance issued by FinCEN in May (previously covered by InfoBytes here) that reminded persons subject to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) how FinCEN regulations relating to money services businesses apply to certain business models involving money transmissions denominated in CVC. Blanco also highlighted the agency’s recent collaboration with the CFTC and the SEC to issue joint guidance on digital asset compliance obligations. (Previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Highlights of Blanco’s remarks include (i) suspicious activity reporting related to CVC has increased, including “filings from exchanges identifying potential unregistered, foreign-located money services businesses”; (ii) compliance with the “Funds Travel Rule” is mandatory and applies to CVC; (iii) for anti-money laundering/combating the funding of terrorism purposes, accepting and transmitting activity denominated in stablecoins falls within FinCEN's definition of “money transmission services” under the BSA; and (iv) administrators of stablecoins must register as money services businesses with FinCEN.
- Daniel R. Alonso to moderate an interactive roundtable at the Latin Lawyer and GIR Connect: Anti-Corruption & Investigations Conference
- APPROVED Checkpoint Webcast: You have license renewal questions, we have answers
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Fintech trends” at the BIHC Network Elevating Black Excellence Regional Summit
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "Truth in lending” at the American Bar Association National Institute on Consumer Financial Services Basics
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss anti-money-laundering at FELABAN Spanish-language webinar “Perspective for banks: LAFT, FINCEN, OFAC, Cryptocurrency”
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss "What’s new in BSA/AML compliance?" at the Institute of International Bankers Regulatory Compliance Seminar
- Marshall T. Bell and John R. Coleman to speak at 2021 AFSA Annual Meeting
- Jon David D. Langlois to discuss "Regulatory update: What you need to know under the new boss; It won’t be the same as the old boss" at the IMN Residential Mortgage Service Rights Forum (East)
- Daniel R. Alonso to discuss internal investigations at the Institute of Internal Auditors of Argentina Spanish-language webinar
- Benjamin B. Klubes to discuss “Creating a Fantastic Workplace Culture”
- John R. Coleman and Amanda R. Lawrence to discuss “Consumer financial services government enforcement actions – The CFPB and beyond” at the Government Investigations & Civil Litigation Institute Annual Meeting
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss "Consumer financial services" at the Practising Law Institute Banking Law Institute
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “Regulators always ring twice: Responding to a government request” at ALM Legalweek