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  • DFPI issues third round of draft regulations for commercial financing disclosures

    State Issues

    On October 12, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) issued a third draft of proposed regulations implementing the requirements of the commercial financing disclosures required by SB 1235 (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018). As previously covered by InfoBytes, in 2018, California enacted SB 1235, which requires non-bank lenders and other finance companies to provide written consumer-style disclosures for certain commercial transactions, including small business loans and merchant cash advances. In July 2019, California released the first draft of the proposed regulations, initiated the formal rulemaking process with the Office of Administrative Law in September 2020, and subsequently released a second round of modifications in August (covered by InfoBytes here, here, and here). The third modifications to the proposed regulations follow a consideration of public comments received on the various iterations of the proposed text. Among other things, the proposed modifications:

    • Amend several terms including “approved advance limit,” “approved credit limit,” “at the time of extending a specific commercial financing offer,” “benchmark rate,” “broker,” “provider,” and “recipient funds.”
    • Define the term “specific commercial financing offer” to mean a written communication to a recipient related to specific payment amounts and costs of financing, but does not include a recipient’s name, address, or general interest in financing.
    • Amend certain disclosure requirements and thresholds, including specific circumstances that a provider can disregard when making calculations and disclosures.
    • Clarify APR calculation requirements and tolerances and outline disclosure criteria for specifying the amount of financing used to pay down or pay off other amounts owed by a recipient.
    • Amend duties and requirements for financers and brokers.
    • Amend criteria for specifying the amount of funding a recipient will receive.

    Comments on the third modifications must be received by October 27.

    State Issues State Regulators DFPI California Disclosures Commercial Finance APR Consumer Finance

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  • NYDFS issues pre-proposed regulation to implement Commercial Finance Disclosure Law

    State Issues

    On September 21, NYDFS Acting Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris announced a pre-proposed regulation to implement New York’s Commercial Finance Disclosure Law (CFDL) (covered by InfoBytes here), which was enacted at the end of December 2020, and amended in February to expand coverage and delay the effective date to January 1, 2022. (See S5470-B, as amended by S898.) Under the CFDL, providers of commercial financing, which includes persons and entities who solicit and present specific offers of commercial financing on behalf of a third party, are required to give consumer-style loan disclosures to potential recipients at the time a specific offering of finance is extended for certain commercial transactions of $2.5 million or less.

    The CFDL and the pre-proposed implementing regulation are applicable to persons or entities who (i) extend a specific offer of commercial financing to a recipient (i.e., a person who applies for commercial financing and is made a specific offer of commercial financing); (ii) solicit and present specific offers of commercial financing on behalf of a third party; or (iii) provide or will provide commercial financing to recipients and communicate a specific amount, rate or price, in connection with the commercial financing, either directly to a recipient, or to a broker with the expectation that the information will be shared with a recipient.

    The term “commercial financing” is defined broadly to include:

    • Open-End Financing
    • Closed-End Financing
    • Sales-Based Financing (i.e., merchant cash advance)
      • Defined to mean any transaction repaid over time as a percentage of sales or revenue, in which the payment amount may vary by sales or revenue volume, including any financing with a sales or revenue based true-up mechanism.
    • Accounts Receivable Purchase Transactions, including Factoring
      • Factoring is defined to mean any accounts receivable purchase transaction that includes an agreement to purchase, transfer, or sell a legally enforceable claim for payment held by a recipient for goods or services that have been supplied or rendered, but for which payment has not yet been made.
    • Asset-Based Lending
      • Defined to mean a transaction in which advances are made from time to time contingent upon a recipient forwarding payments received from one or more third parties for goods or services the recipient has supplied or rendered to such third party.
    • Lease Financing
      • Defined to mean providing a lease for goods that includes a purchase option that creates a security interest in the goods leased, including a “finance lease” as defined in the UCC.
    • Any other form of financing for which proceeds are not primarily intended for consumer-purpose.

    Notwithstanding, the pre-proposed regulation provides that commercial financing does not encompass any transaction in which a financer provides a disclosure required by the Truth in Lending Act. The following entities and transactions are exempt from the CFDL: (i) financial institutions (defined as a chartered or licensed bank, trust company, industrial loan company, savings and loan association, or federal credit union, authorized to do business in New York); (ii) lenders regulated under the federal Farm Credit Act; (iii) commercial financing transactions secured by real property; (iv) technology service providers; (v) certain lease transactions under the New York Uniform Commercial Code; (vi) lenders who make no more than five applicable transactions in New York in a 12-month period; (vii) individual commercial financing transactions in an amount over $2.5 million; and (viii) commercial financing transactions involving certain vehicle dealers.

    Among other things, the pre-proposed regulation:

    • Includes definitions for terms used in the CFDL and the pre-proposed regulation, including definitions of “finance charge” under the different covered transactions (e.g., commercial financing transactions generally, account receivable purchase transactions that are not factoring transactions, factoring transactions, lease financing transactions).  
    • Explains how providers should calculate the annual percentage rate and outlines allowed tolerances. 
    • Outlines formatting requirements for disclosures for the following types of financing: (i) sales-based financing (including merchant cash advances); (ii) closed-end financing; (iii) open-end financing; (iv) factoring transaction financing; (v) lease financing; (vi) general asset-based financing; and (vii) all other commercial financing transactions.
    • Provides disclosure requirements for instances where the amount financed is greater than the recipient funds, which includes a disclosure entitled “Funding You Will Receive.”
    • Provides that, consistent with the CFDL, a provider must give the required disclosures to a recipient at the time of extending a specific offer for commercial financing. The pre-proposed regulation defines “at the time of extending a specific offer” to mean (i) any time a specific periodic or irregular payment amount, rate or price in connection with commercial financing is quoted in writing to a recipient, based upon information from, or about, the recipient; and (ii) any subsequent time when the terms of an existing consummated commercial financing contract are changed, prior to the recipient agreeing to the changes, if the resulting changes would increase the finance charge (certain alternative parameters apply with respect to open-end credit plans). The pre-proposed regulation also notes that where a provider allows a recipient to select from multiple offer options or customize a financing offer, the provider need only provide the disclosure(s) for the specific offer that the recipient elects to pursue.
    • Provides disclosure signature requirements, which may be electronic (prior to consummating a commercial financing, a financer must obtain a copy of the disclosures made pursuant to the CFDL that are signed by the recipient).
    • Describes how the CFDL’s $2.5 million disclosure threshold is calculated.  
    • Outlines requirements for commercial financings that offer multiple payment options.
    • Specifies certain duties of financers and brokers involved in commercial financing, including record retention requirements (four years).  
    • Details the reporting process for which certain providers calculating estimated annual percentage rates will report data to the superintendent relating to “the estimated annual percentage rates disclosed to the recipient and actual retrospective annual percentage rates of completed transactions” in order to facilitate accurate estimates for future transactions.  

    Outreach comments on the pre-proposed regulation are due by October 1. After NYDFS completes this preliminary phase, NYDFS will make a formal proposed regulation. Comments on the formal proposed regulation will be due within 60 days of publication in the State Register. NYDFS expects to have a final regulation in place by January 1, 2022, which is the effective date set forth in the underlying law. 

    State Issues State Regulators NYDFS Small Business Lending Merchant Cash Advance Disclosures Commercial Finance

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  • DFPI again modifies draft regulations for commercial financing disclosures

    State Issues

    On August 9, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) issued a second draft of proposed regulations implementing the requirements of the commercial financing disclosures required by SB 1235 (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018). As previously covered by InfoBytes, in 2018, California enacted SB 1235, which requires non-bank lenders and other finance companies to provide written consumer-style disclosures for certain commercial transactions, including small business loans and merchant cash advances. In July 2019, California released the first draft of the proposed regulations, and last September, California initiated the formal rulemaking process with the Office of Administrative Law (covered by InfoBytes here and here). The second modifications to the proposed regulations follow a consideration of public comments received on the initial proposed text, as well as additional comments received on modifications made to the proposed text in April. Among other things, the proposed modifications (i) amend several terms including “approved advance limit,” “approved credit limit,” and “amount financed”; (ii) clarify the definition of “at the time of extending a specific commercial financing offer”; (iii) replace the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) with the Secured Overnight Financing Rate as one of the benchmark rate options; (iv) add several terms including “broker,” “recipient funds,” “average monthly cost,” “estimated monthly cost,” and “prepaid finance charge”; (v) provide that for disclosure purposes, “a provider shall assume that there are 30 days in every month and 360 days in a year” and specify that the annual percentage rate must be expressed to the nearest ten basis points; (vi) amend certain disclosure requirements and thresholds; (vii) clarify methods for estimating monthly sales, income, or receipt projections for sales-based financing; (viii) amend duties and requirements for financers and brokers; and (ix) clarify APR calculation requirements and tolerances and outline disclosure criteria for specifying the amount of funding a recipient will receive.

    Comments on the second modifications must be received by August 24.

    State Issues State Regulators DFPI Disclosures Commercial Finance Small Business Lending APR Merchant Cash Advance

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  • New York expands commercial lending disclosure coverage

    State Issues

    On February 16, the New York governor signed S898, which amends the state’s recently enacted commercial financing disclosure law to expand its coverage and delay the effective date. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in December 2020, the governor signed S5470, which establishes consumer-style disclosure requirements for certain commercial transactions under $500,000. The law exempts (i) financial institutions (defined as a chartered or licensed bank, trust company, industrial loan company, savings and loan association, or federal credit union, authorized to do business in New York); (ii) lenders regulated under the federal Farm Credit Act; (iii) commercial financing transactions secured by real property; (iv) technology service providers;  and (v) lenders who make no more than five applicable transactions in New York in a 12-month period. The law is currently set to take effect on June 21, which is 180 days after the December 23, 2020 enactment. As noted by the sponsor memo, prior to signing the law, the governor “expressed concerns about the reach of the bill and the time needed to implement the required rulemaking.” After enactment, the legislature introduced S898, which contains the “negotiated change to the underlying chapter [to] address[] those concerns.”

    S898 increases the coverage of the consumer-style disclosure requirements to commercial transactions under $2.5 million and creates a new exemption for certain vehicle dealers. The law also extends the effective date to January 1, 2022.

    State Issues State Legislation Commercial Finance Commercial Lending Merchant Cash Advance

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  • NY bill requires licensing for all commercial financing under $500K

    On January 6, a member of the New York Senate introduced S1061, which would update the New York Banking Law (the “Law”) to require a license for persons or entities engaging in the business of making or soliciting a “commercial financing product” in New York. The legislation defines a commercial financing product as “any advance of funds to a commercial or business enterprise made for the purpose of assisting the business with its capital needs,” including (i) loans made to a commercial enterprise of $500,000 or less; (ii) asset-based financing in the amount of $500,000 or less; and (iii) leasing transactions in the amount of $500,000 or less.

    “Making or soliciting” includes:

    • Providing commercial financing products to small businesses;
    • Marketing commercial financing products for providers of commercial financing products;
    • Receiving compensation from a provider of a commercial financing product in exchange for a referral; and
    • An entity that partners with a federal or state banking organization originator and the entity: (i) acquires a participation interest in the commercial financing product, if the entity either (a) receives compensation from the originator or (b) services the commercial financing product; or (ii) provides indemnity or loss protection to the originator for losses the originator may incur based on the performance of the commercial financing product.

    The legislation would exempt banking organizations as defined by the Law (all banks, trust companies, private bankers, savings banks, safe deposit companies, savings and loan associations, credit unions and investment companies), any lender who makes or solicits five or fewer commercial financing products within a 12-month period, and check casher licensees, among others. Notably, the legislation does not currently contemplate any changes to existing Section 340, Article 9 of the Law, which generally requires licensure to originate commercial-purpose loans in New York of $50,000 or less with a rate above 16 percent.

    Licensing State Issues Small Business Lending State Legislation Commercial Finance Merchant Cash Advance

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  • New York enacts commercial lending disclosure requirements

    State Issues

    On December 23, the New York governor signed S5470, which establishes consumer-style disclosure requirements for certain commercial transactions. For open and closed-end commercial financing transactions, the legislation requires that the disclosures include, among other things, (i) the amount financed or the maximum credit line; (ii) the total cost of the financing; (iii) the annual percentage rate; (iv) payment amounts; (v) a description of all other potential fees and charges; and (vi) prepayment charges. Violations are subject to a civil penalty no greater than $2,000 per violation. Notably, the legislation exempts (i) financial institutions (defined as a chartered or licensed bank, trust company, industrial loan company, savings and loan association, or federal credit union, authorized to do business in New York); (ii) lenders regulated under the federal Farm Credit Act; (iii) commercial financing transactions secured by real property; (iv) technology service providers; (v) lenders who make no more than five applicable transactions in New York in a 12-month period; and (vi) any individual commercial financing transaction over $500,000. The legislation is effective 180 days after enactment.

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, California is currently finalizing proposed regulations implementing the requirements of the commercial financing disclosures required by SB 1235 (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018), which was enacted in September 2018. The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation previously signaled its intent to finalize the regulations by January 2021.

    State Issues Small Business Lending State Legislation Commercial Finance Merchant Cash Advance Disclosures

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  • CDBO releases proposed commercial financing disclosure regulations

    State Issues

    On September 11, the California Department of Business Oversight (CDBO) initiated the formal rulemaking process with the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) for the proposed regulations implementing the requirements of the commercial financing disclosures required by SB 1235 (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018). In September 2018, California enacted SB 1235, which requires non-bank lenders and other finance companies to provide written consumer-style disclosures for certain commercial transactions, including small business loans and merchant cash advances (covered by InfoBytes here). In July 2019, California released the first draft of the proposed regulations (covered by InfoBytes here) to consider comments prior to initiating the formal rulemaking process with the OAL.

    The new proposed regulations, which have been modified since the July 2019 draft, provide general format and content requirements for each disclosure, as well as specific requirements for each type of covered transaction. Additionally, the proposed regulations provide information on calculating the annual percentage rate (APR), including additional details for calculating the APR for factoring transactions, as well as calculating the estimated APR for sales-based financing transactions, among other things. Additional details about the proposed regulations can be found in the CDBO’s initial statement of reasons. Comments on the proposed regulations will be accepted through October 28.

    State Issues Small Business Lending Fintech Disclosures APR Commercial Finance Nonbank CDBO Merchant Cash Advance

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  • California DBO releases draft regulations for commercial financing disclosures

    State Issues

    In July, the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) issued a request for comment on the first draft of regulations implementing the state’s new law on commercial financing disclosures. As previously covered by InfoBytes, in September 2018, the California governor signed SB 1235, which requires non-bank lenders and other finance companies to provide written consumer-style disclosures for certain commercial transactions, including small business loans and merchant cash advances. Most notably, the act requires financing entities subject to the law to disclose in each commercial financing transaction—defined as an “accounts receivable purchase transaction, including factoring, asset-based lending transaction, commercial loan, commercial open-end credit plan, or lease financing transaction intended by the recipient for use primarily for other than personal, family, or household purposes”—the “total cost of the financing expressed as an annualized rate” in a form to be prescribed by the DBO.

    The draft regulation provides general format and content requirements for each disclosure, as well as specific requirements for each type of covered transaction. In addition to the detailed information in the draft regulation, the DBO has released model disclosure forms for the six financing types, (i) closed-end transactions; (ii) open-ended credit plans; (iii) general factoring; (iv) sales-based financing; (v) lease financing; and (vi) asset-based lending. Additionally, the draft regulation uses an annual percentage rate (APR) as the annualized rate disclosure (as opposed to the annualized cost of capital, which was considered in the December 2018 request for comments, covered by InfoBytes here). Moreover, the draft regulation provides additional information for calculating the APR for factoring transactions as well as calculating the estimated APR for sales-based financing transactions.

    Comments on the draft regulations are due by September 9.

    State Issues Small Business Lending Fintech Disclosures APR Commercial Finance Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Nonbank Merchant Cash Advance

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  • New York legislature introduces bills to protect small businesses, regulate merchant cash advance transactions

    State Issues

    On May 1, S5470 was introduced in the New York State Senate and is now sitting with the Committee on Banks, which would establish consumer-style disclosure requirements for certain commercial transactions. Similar to the legislation enacted in California last September, previously covered in InfoBytes here, the bill requires financing entities subject to the law to disclose in each commercial financing transaction “the total cost of the financing, expressed as a dollar cost, including any and all fees, expenses and charges that are to be paid by the recipient and that cannot be avoided by the recipient, including any interest expense.” For open and closed-end commercial financing transactions, the bill requires that the disclosures must include, among other things, (i) the amount financed or the maximum credit line; (ii) the total cost of the financing; (iii) the annual percentage rate; (iv) payment amounts; (v) a description of all other potential fees and charges; and (vi) prepayment charges. The bill sets out analogous, but separate, disclosure requirements for accounts receivable purchase transactions, such as merchant cash advance and factoring transactions.

    Importantly, the bill does not apply to (i) financial institutions (defined as a chartered or licensed bank, trust company, industrial loan company, savings and loan association, or federal credit union, authorized to do business in New York); (ii) lenders regulated under the federal Farm Credit Act; (iii) commercial financing transactions secured by real property; (iv) a technology service provider; and (v) a lender who makes no more than one applicable transaction in New York in a 12-month period or any person that makes commercial financing transactions in New York that are incidental to the lender’s business in a 12-month period.

    Additionally, the New York legislature is also considering a number of other bills that would affect commercial financing transactions:

    • A03637, would amend the state’s banking law to deem asset-based lending transactions (defined as, “a transaction in which advances are made which are contingent on the recipient forwarding payments received from one or more third parties for goods such recipient has supplied or services such recipient has rendered to that third party or parties.”) to be loans for all purposes. On its face, this legislation would subject typical merchant cash advance and factoring transactions, which New York courts have in many recent court cases deemed to be non-loan transactions, to lending law restrictions, which would include potential licensure requirements and usury restrictions.
    • A03636, would amend the state’s business law to prohibit the inclusion of a confession of judgment (COJ) in a contract or agreement for a financial product or service provided by an entity regulated by the New York Department of Financial Services for the purpose of consumer or investor protection, which is specifically defined by the bill as: (i) any product or service for which registration or licensing is required or for which the offeror or provider is required to be registered or licensed by state law; (ii) any product or service as to which provisions for consumer or investor protection are specifically set forth for such product or service by state statute or regulation; and (iii) securities, commodities and real property subject to the provisions of article 23A of the general business law. COJs are contractual clauses in which a debtor waives in advance his or her right to be notified of a court hearing, or to present his or her side of the case, which are prohibited under federal law for consumer contracts by the FTC Credit Practices Rule (16 C.F.R. pt. 444). In conjunction with potential licensure required under AO3637 above, the passage of both pieces of legislation in New York could result in the prohibition of COJ clauses in merchant cash advance agreements, a common feature of such agreements and generally permitted under New York law.
    • A03638, would extend the majority of the state’s consumer protections with respect to loans made to small businesses (defined by the bill as, a “small business shall be deemed to be one which is resident in this state, independently owned and operated, not dominant in its field and employs one hundred or less persons.”). Specifically, the bill would amend the state’s general obligations law to extend all rights and privileges granted under the title to small businesses and would also amend Section 173 and Section 380-e of the state’s banking law to extend all the rights and privileges granted by the section to small businesses.

    Relatedly, the FTC recently held a forum on small business marketplace lending practices, see detailed InfoBytes coverage on the forum here.

    State Issues Small Business Lending State Legislation Consumer Finance Disclosures Commercial Finance APR Merchant Cash Advance

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  • FTC holds forum on marketplace lending to small businesses

    Federal Issues

    On May 8, the FTC held a forum with members of the small business marketplace to discuss the recent uptick in online loans and alternative financing products, and to analyze the potential for unfair and deceptive marketing, sales, and collection practices in the industry. Opening “Strictly Business: An FTC Forum on Small Business Financing,” FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra expressed broad concerns about the state of entrepreneurship in the U.S. and the barriers small businesses face when negotiating contracts. Three panels discussed topics including (i) recent trends in the financing marketplace and small business financing products; (ii) the impact of fintech in online lending; (iii) an examination of the risks and benefits of the merchant cash advance industry; and (iv) consumer protection risks and legislative, self-regulatory, and educational efforts to help better protect borrowers.

    During the first panel, several industry members discussed the importance of credit and financing products in meeting the capital needs of small businesses who often experience challenges with funding operations and cash management. While traditional bank lending and Small Business Administration (SBA) loans often require lengthy, costly underwriting standards, several panelists noted that new marketplace financing options have created opportunities for small businesses that previously did not exist. Among other things, panelists emphasized that there is a big difference between consumer credit and business credit, and that online lenders are leveraging underlying business data, credit card receivables data, and fundamental underlying business transaction data to make sure small businesses can sustain and service their debt. Funding time is also critical to small businesses with many choosing online lenders for faster access to funds. The panel discussed the benefits of online financing products, such as moving away from including consumer credit scores in the underwriting process and examining nontraditional data to look at cash flow, but also cautioned that there can be a lack of transparency around terms and pricing.

    The second panel discussed the merchant cash-advance (MCA) industry, which they described as providing an unregulated form of financing for small businesses in the form of factoring future receivables. Recently, the industry has been scrutinized for alleged collection abuses and use of confessions of judgment (COJs). COJs, which allow lenders to legally seize borrowers’ bank accounts and other assets without a judge’s review, have led to a flood of questionable legal actions against small businesses, according to Commissioner Chopra. However, one of the panelists noted that the FTC limited the ban on COJs to consumers.

    The third panel discussed consumer protection risks as well as products and information available for small business borrowers. A key concern amongst several of the panelists was whether business borrowers are sophisticated enough to understand the various options and if they are able to receive the necessary information to shop between products, such as APRs, total costs, and average monthly payments. The panel also discussed federal and state law, as well as self-regulatory efforts, that offer protections for small business borrowers. All agreed that there has been significant action taken at the state level to try to standardize and harmonize these types of lending practices, and while there was support for a national standard, they cautioned that a weaker national standard should not preempt a stronger state standard. Transparent disclosure standards, consumer protection oriented issues such as privacy and data security, as well as deceptive practices, were also discussed, with panelists agreeing that outreach and consumer education is vital in helping consumers make informed decisions.

    Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Andrew Smith, closed the forum by emphasizing that the FTC has broad authority under the FTC Act to tackle unfair and deceptive practices, and stating that the Commission is very concerned about reports of unfair and deceptive marketing, sales, and collection practices in the small-business finance market. He stressed that while financial technologies can evolve quickly, the underlying legal protections for small businesses remain the same.

    Federal Issues FTC Small Business Lending Fintech Commercial Finance APR Merchant Cash Advance

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