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Georgia enacts commercial financing disclosure requirements
On May 1, the Georgia governor signed SB 90 to, among other things, require disclosures in connection with commercial financing transactions of $500,000 or less. The amendments modify the existing state Fair Business Practices Act and apply to “commercial loans” and “commercial open-end credit plans.” The amendments define a “provider” as “a person who consummates more than five commercial financing transactions in this state during any calendar year and includes, but is not limited to, a person who, under a written agreement with a depository institution, offers one or more commercial financing products provided by the depository institution via an online platform that the person administers.” The amendments also establish parameters for qualifying commercial transactions and outline numerous exemptions. Specifically, prior to consummating a commercial financing transaction, a provider must (i) disclose the terms of the transaction as specified within the amendments, and (ii) include a description of the methodology used to calculate any variable payment amount and the circumstances that may cause a payment amount to vary. The provisions apply to any commercial financing transaction consummated on or after January 1, 2024. The amendments also address unfair or deceptive practices relating to brokerage engagements and is effective January 1, 2024.
DFPI modifies CCFPL proposal
On February 24, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) released modifications to proposed regulations for implementing and interpreting certain sections of the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) related to commercial financial products and services. As previously covered by InfoBytes, DFPI issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) last June to implement sections 22159, 22800, 22804, 90005, 90009, 90012, and 90015 of the CCFPL related to the offering and provision of commercial financing and other financial products and services to small businesses, nonprofits, and family farms. According to DFPI, section 22800 subdivision (d) authorizes the Department to define unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices in connection with the offering or provision of commercial financing. Section 90009, subdivision (e), among other things, authorizes the Department’s rulemaking to include data collection and reporting on the provision of commercial financing or other financial products and services.
After considering comments received on the NPRM, changes proposed by the DFPI include the following:
- Amended definitions. The proposed modification defines a “commercial financing transaction” to mean “a consummated commercial financing transaction for which a disclosure is provided in accordance with California Code of Regulations, title 10, section 920, subdivision (a).” The modifications to the definitions also amend a “covered provider” to exclude “any person exempted from division 24 of the Financial Code under Financial Code section 90002,” and defines a “small business” to be “a business entity organized for profit with annual gross receipts of no more than $16,000,000 or the annual gross receipt level as biennially adjusted by the Department of General Services in accordance with Government Code section 14837, subdivision (d)(3), whichever is greater.” In determining a business entity’s annual gross receipts, the proposed modifications state that covered providers “may rely on any relevant written representation by the business entity, including information provided in any application or agreement for commercial financing or other financial product or service.”
- UDAAP. In addition to making several technical changes, the proposed modifications clarify that “[i]t is unlawful for a covered provider to engage or have engaged in any unfair, deceptive, or abusive act or practice in connection with the offering or provision of commercial financing or another financial product or service to a covered entity.” The changes remove text that would have made it unlawful should a covered provider “propose to engage” in any if these practices.
- Annual reporting requirements. The proposed modifications specify that covered providers who offer commercial financing will be required to electronically file reports to the DFPI on or before March 15 of each year starting in 2025. The proposed changes to the reporting requirements also clarify certain terms, address when covered providers are not required to calculate or report certain information, and stipulate that covered providers “licensed under division 9 (commencing with section 22000) of the Financial Code shall not include in the report required under this section information for activity conducted under the authority of that license.”
Comments on the proposed modifications are due March 15.
NYDFS finalizes commercial financing disclosures
On February 1, NYDFS adopted a final regulation (23 NYCRR 600) outlining disclosure requirements for commercial financing transactions in the state. Under the state’s Commercial Finance Disclosure Law (CFDL)—which was enacted at the end of December 2020—providers of commercial financing, which include 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 when a specific offering of finance is extended for certain commercial transactions of $2.5 million or less.
The final regulation took into consideration comments received on revised proposed regulations published in 2021 and 2022 (covered by InfoBytes here and here), and provides specific instructions for providers on how to comply with the CFDL. Among other things, the final regulation:
- Outlines detailed definitions for terms used within the CFDL and in the regulation;
- Clarifies the definition of “finance charge” with respect to commercial financing transactions, and explains how the finance charge and annual percentage rate should be calculated;
- Describes allowed tolerances and specifies occurrences where providers or financers will not assume liability for disclosure errors or inadvertent disclosures;
- Lays out formatting and content requirements for disclosures required by the CFDL for the following types of financing: (i) sales-based financing; (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 that do not fall within the aforementioned categories;
- Clarifies specific itemization disclosure requirements for when the amount financed is greater than the recipient funds;
- Outlines signature requirements;
- Describes how the CFDL’s disclosure threshold of $2,500,000 is calculated;
- Explains how providers should calculate required disclosures for commercial financing transactions with multiple payment options/balances payable on demand;
- Details certain duties of financers and brokers involved in commercial financing;
- Prescribes a process under which certain providers that use the opt-in method of calculating an estimated annual percentage rates will report data to the superintendent; and
- Specifies provisions related to the assignment of commercial financing agreements.
23 NYCRR 600 will take effect upon publication of the Notice of Adoption in the State Register. The compliance date is six months after the Notice of Adoption is published.
California: TILA does not preempt state laws on commercial financial disclosure
On January 20, California Attorney General Rob Bonta sent a comment letter to CFPB Director Rohit Chopra in response to a preliminary determination issued by the Bureau in December, which concluded that commercial financial disclosure laws in four states (New York, California, Utah, and Virginia) are not preempted by TILA. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Bureau issued a Notice of Intent to Make Preemption Determination under the Truth in Lending Act seeking comments pursuant to Appendix A of Regulation Z on whether it should finalize its preliminary determination. The Bureau noted that a number of states have recently enacted laws requiring improved disclosures of information contained in commercial financing transactions, including loans to small businesses, to mitigate predatory small business lending and improve transparency. In making its preliminary determination, the Bureau concluded that the state and federal laws do not appear “contradictory” for preemption purposes, explaining, among other things, that the statutes govern different transactions (commercial finance rather than consumer credit).
Under the California Commercial Financing Disclosures Law (CFDL), companies are required to disclose various financing terms, including the “total dollar cost of the financing” and the “total cost of the financing expressed as an annualized rate.” Bonta explained that the CFDL only applies to commercial financing arrangements (and not to consumer credit transactions) and “was enacted in 2018 to help small businesses navigate a complicated commercial financing market by mandating uniform disclosures of certain credit terms in a manner similar to TILA’s requirements, but for commercial transactions that are unregulated by TILA.” He pointed out that disclosures required under the CFDL do not conflict with those required by TILA, and emphasized that there is no material difference between the disclosures required by the two statutes, even if TILA were to apply to commercial financing. According to Bonta, should TILA preempt the CFDL’s disclosure requirements, there would be no required disclosures at all for commercial credit in the state, which would make it challenging for small businesses to make informed choices about commercial financing arrangements.
While Bonta agreed with the Bureau’s determination that TILA does not preempt the CFDL, he urged the Bureau to “articulate a narrower standard that emphasizes that preemption should be limited to situations where it is impossible to comply with both TILA and the state law or where the state law stands as an obstacle to the full purposes [of] TILA, which is to provide consumers with full and meaningful disclosure of credit terms in consumer credit transactions.” He added that the Bureau “should also reemphasize certain principles from prior [Federal Reserve Board] decisions, including that state laws are preempted only to the extent of actual conflict and that state laws requiring additional disclosures—or disclosures in transactions not addressed by TILA—are not preempted.”
CFPB says TILA does not preempt NY law on commercial disclosures
On December 7, the CFPB issued a preliminary determination that New York’s commercial financing disclosure law is not preempted by TILA because the state’s statute regulates commercial financing transactions and not consumer-purpose transactions. The CFPB issued a Notice of Intent to Make Preemption Determination under the Truth in Lending Act seeking comments pursuant to Appendix A of Regulation Z on whether it should finalize its preliminary determination that New York’s law, as well as potentially similar laws in California, Utah, and Virginia, are not preempted by TILA. Comments are due January 20, 2023. Once the comment period closes, the Bureau will publish a notice of final determination in the Federal Register.
Explaining that recently a number of states have enacted laws to require improved disclosures of information contained in commercial financing transactions, including loans to small businesses, in order to mitigate predatory small business lending and improve transparency, the Bureau said it received a written request to make a preemption determination involving certain disclosure provisions in TILA. While Congress expressly granted the Bureau authority to evaluate whether any inconsistencies exist between certain TILA provisions and state laws and to make a preemption determination, the statute’s implementing regulations require the agency to request public comments before making a final determination.
While New York’s Commercial Financing Law “requires financial disclosures before consummation of covered transactions,” the Bureau pointed out that this applies to “commercial financing” rather than consumer credit. The request contended that TILA preempts New York’s law in relation to its use of the terms “finance charge” and “annual percentage rate”—“notwithstanding that the statutes govern different categories of transactions.” The request outlined material differences in how the two statutes use these terms and asserted “that these differences make the New York law inconsistent with Federal law for purposes of preemption.” As an example, the request noted that the state’s definition of “finance charge” is broader than the federal definition, and that the “estimated APR” disclosure required under state law “for certain transactions is less precise than the APR calculation under TILA and Regulation Z.” Moreover, “New York law requires certain assumptions about payment amounts and payment frequencies in order to calculate APR and estimated APR, whereas TILA does not require similar assumptions,” the request asserted, adding that inconsistencies between the two laws could lead to borrower confusion or misunderstanding.
In making its preliminary determination, the Bureau concluded that the state and federal laws do not appear “contradictory” for preemption purposes based on the request’s assertions. The Bureau explained that the statutes govern different transactions and disagreed with the argument that New York’s law impedes the operation of TILA or interferes with its primary purpose. Specifically, the Bureau stated that the “differences between the New York and Federal disclosure requirements do not frustrate these purposes because lenders are not required to provide the New York disclosures to consumers seeking consumer credit.”
New NYDFS proposal to implement Commercial Finance Disclosure Law
On September 14, NYDFS published a notice of proposed rulemaking under New York’s Commercial Financing Disclosure Law (CFDL) related to disclosure requirements for certain providers of commercial financing transactions in the state. As previously covered by InfoBytes, the CFDL was enacted at the end of December 2020, and amended in February to expand coverage and delay the effective date. (See S5470-B, as amended by S898.) Under the CFDL, providers of commercial financing, which include 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 when a specific offering of finance is extended for certain commercial transactions of $2.5 million or less. Last December, NYDFS announced that providers’ compliance obligations under the CFDL will not take effect until the necessary implementing regulations are issued and effective (covered by InfoBytes here).
The newest proposed regulations (see Assessment of Public Comments for the Revised Proposed New Part 600 to 23 NYCRR) introduce several revisions and clarifications following the consideration of comments received on proposed regulations published last October (covered by InfoBytes here). Updates include:
- A new section stating that a “transaction is subject to the CFDL if one of the parties is principally directed or managed from New York, or the provider negotiated the commercial financing from a location in New York.”
- A new section requiring notice be sent to a recipient if a change is made to the servicing of a commercial financing agreement.
- An revised definition of “recipient” to now “include entities subject to common control if all such recipients receive the single offer of commercial financing simultaneously.”
- Clarifying language stating that the “requirements pertaining to the statement of a rate of finance charge or a financing amount, as that term appears in Section 810 of the CFDL, shall be in effect only upon the quotation of a specific commercial financing offer.”
- Provisions allowing providers to perform calculations based upon either a 30-day month/360-day year or a 365-day year, with the acknowledgment that different methods of computation may lead to slightly different results.
- An amendment stating that “a ‘provider is not required to provide the disclosures required by the CFDL when the finance charge of an existing financing is effectively increased due to the incurrence, by the recipient, of avoidable fees and charges.’”
- An acknowledgement of comments asking that 23 NYCRR Part 600 be identical to California’s disclosure requirements (covered by InfoBytes here) “or as consistent as possible.” In response, NYDFS said that while it generally agrees, and has consulted with the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), the regulations cannot be identical because the CFDL differs from the California Consumer Financial Protection Law and the Department cannot anticipate any future revisions DFPI may make to its proposed regulations.
Comments on the proposed regulations are due October 31.
DFPI seeks to regulate commercial financial products and services under the CCFPL
Recently, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to adopt regulations to implement certain sections of the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) related to commercial financial products and services. (See also text of the proposed regulations here.) As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, the CCFPL became law in 2020 and, among other things, (i) establishes UDAAP authority for the DFPI; (ii) authorizes the DFPI to impose penalties of $2,500 for “each act or omission” in violation of the law without a showing that the violation was willful (thus going beyond both Dodd-Frank and existing California law); (iii) provides the DFPI with broad discretion to determine what constitutes a “financial product or service” within the law’s coverage; and (iv) provides that enforcement of the CCFPL will be funded through the fees generated by the new registration process as well as fines, penalties, settlements, or judgments. While the CCFPL exempts certain entities (e.g., banks, credit unions, certain licensees), the law expands the DFPI’s oversight authority to include debt collection, debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, retail sales financing, consumer credit reporting, and lead generation.
The NPRM proposes new rules to implement sections 22159, 22800, 22804, 90005, 90009, 90012, and 90015 of the CCFPL related to the offering and provision of commercial financing and other financial products and services to small businesses, nonprofits, and family farms. According to DFPI’s notice, section 22800 subdivision (d) authorizes the Department to define unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices in connection with the offering or provision of commercial financing. Section 90009, subdivision (e), among other things, authorizes the Department’s rulemaking to include data collection and reporting on the provision of commercial financing or other financial products and services.
Among other things, the NPRM:
- Clarifies that the CCFPL makes it unlawful for covered providers, as defined, to engage in unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices;
- Provides standards for determining whether an act or practice is unfair, deceptive, or abusive;
- Defines small business, nonprofit, and family farm, among other terms;
- Clarifies DFPI's ability to enforce the regulation’s provisions;
- Requires covered providers to submit annual reports containing information about their provision of commercial financing or other financial products and services to small businesses, nonprofits, and family farms;
- Identifies persons excluded from the reporting requirement;
- Specifies the information required in the reports, as well as provide guidance on calculating or determining certain information;
- Clarifies the obligations of those also submitting annual reports to DFPI as licensees under the California Financing Law.
Written comments on the NPRM are due by August 8.
CA approves commercial financing disclosure regs
On June 9, the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation’s (DFPI) proposed commercial financial disclosure regulations. The regulations implement commercial financing disclosure requirements under SB 1235 (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018). (See also DFPI press release here.) 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.
Notably, SB 1235 does not apply to (i) depository institutions; (ii) lenders regulated under the federal Farm Credit Act; (iii) commercial financing transactions secured by real property; (iv) a commercial financing transaction in which the recipient is a vehicle dealer, vehicle rental company, or affiliated company, and meets other specified requirements; and (v) a lender who makes no more than one applicable transaction in California in a 12-month period or a lender who makes five or fewer applicable transactions that are incidental to the lender’s business in a 12-month period. The act also does not cover true leases (but will apply to bargain-purchase leases), commercial loans under $5,000 (which are considered consumer loans in California regardless of any business-purpose and subject to separate disclosure requirements), and commercial financing offers greater than $500,000.
California released four rounds of draft proposed regulations between 2019 and 2021 to solicit public comments on various iterations of the proposed text (covered by InfoBytes here). In conjunction with the approved regulations, DFPI released a final statement of reasons that outlines specific revisions and discusses the agency’s responses to public comments.
Among other things, the regulations:
- Clarify that a nondepository institution providing technology or support services to a depository institution’s commercial financing program is not required to provide disclosures, provided “the nondepository institution has no interest, or arrangement or agreement to purchase any interest in the commercial financing extended by the depository institution in connection with such program, and the commercial financing program is not branded with a trademark owned by the nondepository institution.”
- Provide detailed instructions for the content and layout of disclosures, including specific rows and columns that must be used for a disclosure table and the terms that must appear in each section of the table, that are to be delivered at the time a specific type of commercial financing offer equal to or less than $500,000 is extended.
- Cover the following commercial loan transactions: closed-end transactions, commercial open-end credit plans, factoring transactions, sales-based financing, lease financing, asset-based lending transactions. Disclosure formatting and content requirements are also provided for all other commercial financing transactions that do not fit within the other categories.
- Require disclosures to provide, among other things, the amount financed; itemization of the amount financed; annual percentage rate (the regulations provide category-specific calculation instructions); finance charges (estimated and total); payment methods, including the frequency and terms for both variable and fixed rate financing; details related to prepayment policies; and estimated loan repayment terms.
The regulations take effect December 9.
California reinstates single commercial loan licensing exemption under the CFL
On April 28, the California governor signed SB 577, which amends provisions relating to certain financial institutions, including California Financing Law (CFL), Escrow Agent, and Money Transmitter licensees.
The bill reinstates a licensing exemption available to commercial lenders in California. Specifically, the bill reenacted a provision that formerly expired on January 1, 2022. This reinstated provision permits a lender to make a single loan within a 12-month period, if the loan is a commercial loan as defined by the CFL, without having to obtain a CFL license.
The bill also updates contact information to be included on notices posted by California Money Transmitter licensees. Specifically, the bill establishes that California Money Transmitter licensees are required to prominently post, in English and in the same language used by the licensee to conduct business, on the premises of each branch office that conducts money transmission activities a certain notice, including specific contact information for the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
Finally, the bill removes obsolete language from provisions governing criminal and civil background requirements for Escrow Agent licensees.
The bill is effective immediately.
Utah enacts financial institution provisions
On March 24, the Utah governor signed SB 183 into law, which amends the state’s provisions related to financial institutions. Among other things, the bill: (i) modifies the definition of “control” for purposes of the Financial Institutions Act and provides penalties for failure to comply with registration and disclosure requirements. Additionally, the bill enacts the Commercial Financing Registration and Disclosure Act, which requires individuals who provide certain commercial financing products to register with the Department of Financial Institutions and make certain disclosures in connection with each commercial financing product.