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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

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  • Fed’s Bowman discusses the economy and bank supervision

    On January 10, Federal Reserve Governor Michelle W. Bowman spoke before the Florida Bankers Association Leadership Luncheon regarding the economy and bank supervision. In her remarks, Bowman said that inflation is “much too high” and that her focus is on “bringing it down toward our 2 percent goal.” Bowman stated it is a “hopeful sign” that unemployment has remained low. However, she acknowledged that it is likely that as a part of the process, “labor markets will soften somewhat before we bring inflation back to our 2 percent goal.”

    Regarding crypto, Bowman said that crypto activities may “pose significant risks to consumers, businesses, and potentially the larger financial system.” She also said that there is “dysfunction” in cryptomarkets, “with some crypto firms misrepresenting that they have deposit insurance.” She also mentioned “the collapse of certain stablecoins, and, most recently, the bankruptcy of [a cryptocurrency exchange platform].”

    Bowman additionally discussed the Fed’s push for a real-time payments system. Since 2019, the Fed has been working to launch FedNow, a new faster payments system that will be available in the first half of 2023. According to Bowman, “FedNow will help transform the way payments are made through new direct services that enable consumers and businesses to make payments conveniently, in real time, on any day, and with immediate availability of funds for receivers.” As previously covered by a Buckley Special Alert, in June, the Fed issued a final rule on its FedNow instant-payments platform that offers more clarity on how the new service will work while essentially adopting the proposed rule. She also noted that FedNow will enable depository institutions of every size to provide “safe and efficient” instant payment services.

    Regarding climate change, Bowman noted that the Fed views its role on climate “as a narrow focus on supervisory responsibilities and limited to our role in promoting a safe, sound and stable financial system.” She also noted that the Fed’s recent climate guidance only applies to banks with more than $100 billion in assets. Bowman also disclosed while “climate supervision effort is a new area of focus, it has been a longstanding supervisory requirement that banks manage their risks related to extreme weather events and other natural disasters that could disrupt operations or impact business lines.”

    Additionally, Bowman provided a Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) update. She said that the CRA, which requires the Fed and other banking agencies to encourage banks to help meet the credit needs of their communities, “was last updated 25 years ago.” As previously covered by InfoBtytes, in May, the Fed, FDIC, and OCC issued a joint notice of proposed rulemaking on new regulations implementing the CRA to update how CRA activities qualify for consideration, where CRA activities are considered, and how CRA activities are evaluated. The CRA proposal, which she is fully supportive of, “reflects these industry changes, including recognizing internet and mobile banking services, it also attempts to provide clarity and consistency, and it could enhance access to credit for these low- and moderate-income communities

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Federal Reserve Cryptocurrency Digital Assets CRA FedNow Climate-Related Financial Risks

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  • Fed finalizes updates to policy on payment system risk

    On December 2, the Federal Reserve Board finalized clarifying and technical updates to its Policy on Payment System Risk (PSR). The changes, which are adopted largely as proposed in May 2021 (covered by InfoBytes here), expand depository institutions’ eligibility to request collateralized intraday credit from the Federal Reserve Banks (FRBs), and ease the process for submitting such requests. The final updates also clarify eligibility standards for accessing uncollateralized intraday credit; modify the PSR policy to support the launch of the FedNow instant-payments platform, which is scheduled for mid-year 2023 (covered by InfoBytes here); and simplify and incorporate the related Overnight Overdrafts policy into the PSR policy. Updates related to FedNow and the Overnight Overdrafts policy will take effect once the FRBs start processing live transactions for FedNow. The remaining updates are effective 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Banks Payments FedNow Risk Management

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  • Fed’s FedNow instant-payments platform to launch mid-2023

    On August 29, the Federal Reserve Board announced that its FedNow service will launch mid-year 2023, targeting May to July as the production rollout window for the anticipated instant-payments platform. The FedNow pilot program is scheduled to enter technical testing in September with more than 120 organizations taking part. As covered by a Buckley Special Alert, in May, the Fed issued a final rule for its FedNow service that offers more clarity on how the platform will work. According to the Fed, the FedNow service will be accessible to financial institutions of any size to help expand the reach of instant payments to communities nationwide. FedNow pilot program participants “will complete a certification process to ensure operational and messaging readiness and then move into production once the service is launched,” the Fed said, noting that as the pilot program moves into the testing phase, it will engage non-pilot financial institutions and service providers interested in being early adopters.

    “Just as the Federal Reserve has made a substantial commitment to our new instant payment infrastructure, we are calling on industry stakeholders to do the same,” Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard said during a speech at the FedNow Early Adopter Workshop. “The shift to real-time payment infrastructure requires a focused effort, but the shift is inevitable. The time is now for all key stakeholders—financial institutions, core service providers, software companies, and application developers—to devote the resources necessary to support instant payments.”

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Payments FedNow

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  • Special Alert: Fed finalizes rule for FedNow platform

    The Federal Reserve Board recently issued a final rule for its FedNow instant-payments platform that offers more clarity on how the new service will work while essentially adopting the proposed rule. FedNow will stand alongside private sector initiatives and, like more modern payments systems, will feature credit payments to push funds rather than debit payments to pull funds, offering faster processing.

    Highlights of the new rule and FedNow

    • Not yet open for business. The Fed continues to target release of FedNow for sometime in 2023. It will implement the 24x7x365 real-time payments service in stages, each with additional features and enhancements.
       
    • Not a consumer or business app or service. Depository institutions that are eligible to hold Reserve Bank accounts will be able to use FedNow, which will be administered by the 12 Reserve Banks. Consumers and businesses may not participate in FedNow directly, and therefore, could not send payment orders to a Reserve Bank through it. They would instead send instant payments through their depository institution accounts.
       
    • Bank vnonbank direct participation in FedNow. Eligible institutions include banks, savings associations, credit unions, U.S. branches and agencies of non-U.S. banks, Edge or agreement corporations, some systemically important financial market utilities, and government-sponsored entities (including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). We use the term “banks” throughout to simplify the discussion.

    Bank Regulatory Federal Issues Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Special Alerts Federal Reserve FedNow Payments Regulation J Bank Compliance

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