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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations


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  • FTC, NLRB sign MOU to protect workers in gig economy

    Federal Issues

    On July 19, the FTC announced that it is joining with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (collectively, “Parties”) in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) intended to protect workers by promoting competitive U.S. labor markets and putting an end to unfair practices that harm workers in the “gig economy” and other labor markets. The MOU provides ways for the Parties to work together to address key issues, such as labor market concentration, one-sided contract terms, and labor developments in the gig economy. According to the MOU, the Parties recognize that ongoing interagency collaboration regarding “issues of common regulatory interest will help to protect workers against unfair methods of competition, unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and unfair labor practices.” The MOU also provides that the Parties will facilitate: (i) “information sharing and cross-agency consultations on an ad hoc basis for official law enforcement purposes, in a manner consistent with and permitted by the laws and regulations that govern the Parties”; (ii) “cross-agency training to educate each Party about the laws and regulations enforced by the other Party”; and (iii) “coordinated outreach and education as appropriate.” According to the FTC, the MOU “is part of a broader FTC initiative to use the agency’s full authority[.]” The announcement also described the FTC’s recent efforts to root out deceptive and unfair acts and practices aimed at workers, “particularly those in the ‘gig economy’ who often don’t enjoy the full protections of traditional employment relationship.”

    Federal Issues FTC UDAP MOUs Enforcement Deceptive Unfair

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  • Treasury, Singapore sign cybersecurity cooperation MOU

    Privacy, Cyber Risk & Data Security

    On August 23, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore finalized a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cybersecurity cooperation. The MOU formalizes and strengthens a strong cybersecurity partnership between the two countries and, among other things, enhances cooperation in the following areas: (i) “[i]nformation sharing relating to the financial sector including cybersecurity regulations and guidance, cybersecurity incidents, and cybersecurity threat intelligence”; (ii) “[s]taff training and study visits to promote cooperation in the area of cybersecurity”; and (iii) “[c]ompetency-building activities such as the conduct of cross-border cybersecurity exercises.” According to Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen, the MOU serves “to improve the cyber resilience of both countries’ financial systems.”

    Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security Department of Treasury Singapore MOUs

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  • SEC, ECB sign MOU concerning security-based swap entity oversight


    On August 16, the SEC and the European Central Bank (ECB) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) intended to facilitate the consultation, cooperation, and exchange of information connected with the supervision, enforcement, oversight, and inspection of certain security-based swap dealers and major security-based swap entities in EU member states registered with the SEC and supervised by the ECB. These include SEC-registered security-based swap entities participating in the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), the EU’s system of banking supervision, which “is composed of the ECB and the relevant national competent authorities of participating EU Member States.” Among other things, the MOU will “support the SEC’s oversight of the operation of substituted compliance orders that the Commission has issued for security-based swap entities in France and Germany, as well as any future substituted compliance orders for such firms in other EU Member States that participate in the SSM,” to enable an entity to comply with certain Dodd-Frank Act requirements by complying with comparable EU and EU Member State laws. The MOU, which is intended to “foster cooperation” and exchange information between the authorities, states that at the date of execution, “no bank secrecy, blocking laws, or other regulations or legal barriers, should prevent an Authority from providing assistance to the other Authority pursuant to this MOU, or otherwise adversely affect or hinder the operation of this MOU.”

    Securities Swaps Of Interest to Non-US Persons MOUs EU Dodd-Frank

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  • HUD and FHFA announce fair housing collaboration

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On August 12, HUD announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with FHFA regarding fair housing and fair lending coordination. The MOU—a “first-of-its-kind collaborative agreement”—will expire in December 2025, and is intended to enhance enforcement of the Fair Housing Act and the agencies’ oversight of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks. According to HUD, the agencies “anticipate that the MOU will lead to stronger oversight that will help advance vigorous fair housing enforcement that can begin to redress our nation’s history of discriminatory housing practices.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FHFA HUD MOUs Fair Lending Fair Housing Act Fannie Mae Freddie Mac FHLB

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  • FCC signs robocall enforcement MOU with Australia

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 3, the FCC announced that it entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) on providing mutual assistance in the enforcement of laws on certain unlawful communications, such as robocall, robotexts, and “spoofing.” FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel noted that “[r]obocall scams are a global problem that require global commitment and cooperation” and that coordinating with ACMA can aid in removing scammers off of networks to protect consumers and businesses. ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin noted that the agreement strengthens the existing relationship between the ACMA and the FCC in the regulation of unsolicited communications. According to the MOU, the FCC and ACMA understand that it is in their common public interest to, among other things: (i) “cooperate with respect to the enforcement against Covered Violations, including sharing complaints and other relevant information and providing investigative assistance”; (ii) enable “research and education related to unlawful robocalls and caller ID spoofing or overstamping”; (iii) “facilitate mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise through training programs and staff exchanges”: (iv) encourage awareness of economic and legal conditions and theories related to the enforcement of applicable laws as identified in Annex 1 to the MOU; and (v) update each other regarding developments related to the MOU in their respective countries in a timely manner.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance MOUs Robocalls FCC Federal Issues

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  • DFPI signs MOUs with EWA companies

    State Issues

    On January 27, California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced that it entered into memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with five earned wage access (EWA) companies. According to DFPI, the MOUs represent the first agreements of their kind between fintechs and a state regulator, and are intended to “pave a path so [EWA] companies can continue operating in California, in advance of possible registration under the California Consumer Financial Protection Law [CCFPL], which took effect this year and defines the companies as newly covered financial services.” (Buckley Special Alert coverage on the CCFPL available here.) The five EWA companies represent two advance pay models: “an employer-based model which offers early access to wages in partnership with an employer as a benefit and a direct-to-consumer model which does not require employer participation.”

    Under the terms of the MOUs, the companies have agreed to deliver quarterly reports providing DFPI with a better understanding of their products and services, as well as the risks and benefits to consumers in the state. Reports will include information concerning “changes to consumer contracts, fees to consumers, consumer complaints, the average number of advances per month, duration before consumer payback, and the number of consumers making no repayment, partial repayments, or requesting cancellations or deferrals, among other stipulations.” The companies have also agreed to regular periodic DFPI examinations and are required to follow industry best practices, including by, among other things, (i) not offering any financial products that are “contingent on any tips the consumer chooses to make or does not make”; (ii) complying with TILA by limiting annual percentage rates on advanced funds to 36 percent; (iii) disclosing to consumers any potential fees that may be assessed prior to advancing the funds; (iv) limiting the amount of funds advanced to a consumer to no more than 50 percent of the consumer’s next paycheck; and (v) allowing consumers to revoke EFT authorization up to three days before a scheduled repayment date.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, last November the CFPB issued an advisory opinion on EWA products, which clarified that “a Covered EWA Program does not involve the offering or extension of ‘credit’” under Regulation Z, which implements TILA. The Bureau noted that the “totality of circumstances of a Covered EWA Program supports that these programs differ in kind from products the Bureau would generally consider to be credit.”

    State Issues DFPI Fintech Earned Wage Access MOUs

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  • CFPB and NCUA announce supervision MOU

    Federal Issues

    On January 14, the CFPB announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the NCUA, which is intended to improve supervision coordination of credit unions with over $10 billion in assets. According to the Bureau’s press release, the MOU covers (i) the sharing of the Covered Reports of Examination and final Reports of Examination for covered institutions, using secure, two-way electronic means; (ii) collaboration in semi-annual strategy planning sessions for examination coordination; (iii) information sharing on training activities and content; and (iv) information sharing related to potential enforcement actions.

    Federal Issues CFPB NCUA MOUs Supervision Credit Union

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  • Kraninger testifies at House hearing; final payday rule expected in April

    Federal Issues

    On February 6, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger testified at a House Financial Services Committee hearing on the CFPB’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) The hearing covered the semi-annual report to Congress on the Bureau’s work from April 1, 2019, through September 30, 2019. In her opening remarks, Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters argued, among other things, that the Bureau’s recent policy statement on the “abusiveness” standard in supervision and enforcement matters “undercuts” Dodd-Frank’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. Waters also challenged Kraninger on her support for the joint notice of proposed rulemaking issued by the OCC and FDIC to strengthen and modernize Community Reinvestment Act regulations (covered by a Buckley Special Alert), arguing that the proposal would lead to disinvestment in communities, while emphasizing that Kraninger’s actions have not demonstrated the Bureau’s responsibility to meaningfully protect consumers. However, in her opening statement and written testimony, Kraninger highlighted several actions recently taken by the Bureau to protect consumers, and emphasized the Bureau’s commitment to preventing harm by “building a culture of compliance throughout the financial system while supporting free and competitive markets that provide for informed consumer choice.”

    Additional highlights of Kraninger’s testimony include:

    • Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Education (Department). Kraninger discussed the recently announced information sharing agreement (covered by InfoBytes here) between the Bureau and the Department, intended to protect student borrowers by clarifying the roles and responsibilities for each agency and permitting the sharing of student loan complaint data analysis, recommendations, and data analytic tools. Kraninger stated that the MOU will give the Department the same near real-time access to the Bureau’s complaint database enjoyed by other government partners, and also told the Committee that the Bureau and Department are currently discussing a second supervisory MOU.
    • Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans. Kraninger told the Committee that a rewrite of the payday lending rule—which will eliminate requirements for lenders to assess a borrower’s ability to repay loans—is expected in April. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Kraninger noted that the Bureau is currently reviewing an “extensive number of comments” and plans to address a petition on the rule’s payments provision. “[F]inancial institutions have argued that there were some products pulled into that that were, you know, unintended,” she stated. “[W]orking through all of that and. . .moving forward in a way that is transparent in. . .April is what I am planning to do.” 
    • Ability-to-Repay and Qualified Mortgages (QM). Kraninger discussed the Bureau’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking that would modify the QM Rule by moving away from the 43 percent debt to income ratio requirement and adopt an alternative such as a pricing threshold to ensure responsible, affordable mortgage credit is available to consumers. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) She stated that the Bureau would welcome legislation from Congress in this area.
    • Supervision and Enforcement. Kraninger repeatedly emphasized that supervision is an important tool for the Bureau, and stated in her written testimony that during the reporting period discussed, “the Bureau’s Fair Lending Supervision program initiated 16 supervisory events at financial services institutions under the Bureau’s jurisdiction to determine compliance with federal laws intended to ensure the fair, equitable, and nondiscriminatory access to credit for both individuals and communities, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act [] and HMDA.” In addition to discussing recent enforcement actions, Kraninger also highlighted three innovation policies: the Trial Disclosure Program Policy, No-Action Letter Policy, and the Compliance Assistance Sandbox Policy. (Covered by InfoBytes here.)
    • Military Lending Act (MLA). Kraninger reiterated her position that she does not believe Dodd-Frank gives the Bureau the authority to supervise financial institutions for military lending compliance, and repeated her request for Congress to grant the Bureau clear authority to do so. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Congressman Barr (R-KY) noted that while he introduced H.R. 442 last month in response to Kraninger’s request, the majority has denied the mark up.
    • UDAAP. Kraninger fielded a number of questions on the Bureau’s recent abusiveness policy statement. (Covered by InfoBytes here.) Several Democrats told Kraninger the new policy will put unnecessary constraints on the Bureau’s enforcement powers, while some Republicans said the policy fails to define what constitutes an abusive act or practice. Kraninger informed the Committee that the policy statement is intended to “clarify abusiveness and separate it from deceptive and unfairness because Congress explicitly gave us those three authorities.” Kraninger reiterated that the Bureau will seek monetary relief only when the entity has failed to make a good faith effort to comply, and that “[r]estitution for consumers will be the priority in these cases.” She further emphasized that “in no way should that policy be read to say that we would not bring abusiveness claims.” Congresswoman Maloney (D-NY) argued, however, that a 2016 fine issued against a national bank for allegedly unfair and abusive conduct tied to the bank’s incentive compensation sales practices “would have been substantially lower if the [B]ureau hadn’t charged [the bank] with abus[ive] conduct also.” Kraninger replied that the Bureau could have gotten “the same amount of restitution and other penalties associated with unfairness alone.”
    • Constitutionality Challenge. Kraninger reiterated that while she agrees with Seila Law on the Bureau’s single-director leadership structure, she differs on how the matter should be resolved. “Congress obviously provided a clear mission for this agency but there are some questions around. . .this and I want the uncertainty to be resolved,” Kraninger testified. “Congress will have the opportunity to make any changes or respond to that and I think that’s appropriate,” she continued. “I would very much like to see a resolution on this question because it has hampered the CFPB’s ability to carry out its mission, virtually since its inception.” (Continuing InfoBytes coverage on Seila Law LLC v. CFPB here.)

    Federal Issues House Financial Services Committee CFPB UDAAP MOUs Department of Education Payday Rule Ability To Repay Qualified Mortgage Supervision Enforcement Military Lending Act Single-Director Structure Seila Law

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  • CFPB, DOE sign MOU on student loan complaint data

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On February 3, the CFPB and the Department of Education (Department) announced a new agreement to share student loan complaint data. (See press releases here and here.) The newly signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is the first information sharing agreement between the agencies since the Department terminated two MOUs in 2017. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Department cancelled the “Memorandum of Understanding Between the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the U.S. Department of Education Concerning the Sharing of Information” and the “Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Supervisory and Oversight Cooperation and Related Information Sharing Between the U.S. Department of Education and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,” and at the time rebuked the Bureau for overreaching and undermining the Department’s mission to serve students and borrowers.

    The new MOU clarifies the roles and responsibilities for each agency and permits the sharing of student loan complaint data analysis and other information and recommendations. Among other responsibilities, the Department will direct complaints related to private loans governed by TILA to the Bureau, and both agencies will discuss complaints regarding federal student loans with program issues that may have an impact on federal consumer financial laws. The agencies will also conduct quarterly meetings to discuss complaint observations and borrower characteristics, as well as complaint resolution information when available. Additionally, the MOU addresses permissible uses and confidentiality of exchanged information and the development of tools for sharing data analytics.

    The MOU was released a few days after Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) sent a letter to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger expressing frustration with the Bureau’s oversight of federal student loan servicers and delay in reestablishing an MOU with the Department that would allow the Bureau to resume examining federal student loan servicers.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CFPB Department of Education MOUs Consumer Complaints Student Lending

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  • Senators request explanation for delay in reestablishing CFPB/Department of Education MOU

    Federal Issues

    On July 18, Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) sent a letter to CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger and U.S. Department of Education (Department) Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting an explanation as to why a statutorily required Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) terminated by the Department in 2017 has not been reestablished. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the terminated MOU allowed the sharing of information connected with the oversight of federal student loans. The Senators’ letter raises questions concerning the disagreement between the agencies over why the MOU was terminated, as well as “conflicting explanations” provided to Congress regarding the delay in reestablishing the MOU. According to the Senators, Kraninger previously commented in April that creating a new MOU with the Department was a priority for the Bureau (see InfoBytes coverage here). However, the Senators note that this statement conflicts with formal responses from the Department for a hearing record received three weeks after Kraninger’s comments, in which the Department claimed the Bureau “has not formally attempted to reestablish an MOU.” The Senators asked the agencies to provide a written explanation addressing (i) the basis for terminating the MOU; (ii) whether an attempt to reestablish the MOU has been made; (iii) any outstanding unresolved issues preventing reestablishment of the MOU; and (iv) an expected timeline for reestablishing the MOU. The Senators strongly encouraged the agencies “to reestablish the MOU immediately.”

    Federal Issues CFPB Department of Education MOUs Student Lending

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