Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.
On July 3, the Hawaii governor signed HB 1027 (the “Act”) into law, amending several provisions relating to the Money Transmitters Modernization Act. The Act adds and amends several definitions. Changes include defining “money,” “receiving money or monetary value for transmission,” and “tangible net worth.” The definition of “money transmission” has also been amended to clarify its connection to business done in Hawaii, and “stored value” has been amended to mean monetary value “that represents a claim against the issuer evidenced by an electronic or digital record and that is intended and accepted for use as a means of redemption for money or monetary value, or payment for goods or services.” Stored value does not include “a payment instrument or closed loop stored value, or stored value not sold to the public but issued and distributed as part of a loyalty, rewards, or promotional program.”
Among the various exemptions, the Act also provides for an exemption for an agent of the payee to collect and process a payment from a payor to the payee for goods or services, other than money transmission services, provided certain criteria is met. Additional exemptions include certain persons acting as intermediaries, persons expressly appointed as third-party service providers to an exempt entity, and registered futures commission merchants and securities broker-dealers, among others. Anyone claiming to be exempt from licensing may be required to provide information and documentation demonstrating their qualification for the claimed exemption.
The amendments outline numerous licensing application and renewal procedures, including largely adopting the net worth, surety bond, and permissible investment requirements set forth in the Money Transmission Modernization Act. Several other states have also recently enacted provisions relating to the licensing and regulation of money transmitters (see InfoBytes coverage here and here).
The Act took effect July 1.
Minnesota enacts small-dollar consumer lending and money transmitter amendments; Georgia and Nevada also enact money transmission provisions
On May 24, the Minnesota governor signed SF 2744 to amend several state statutes relating to financial institutions, including provisions concerning small-dollar, short-term consumer lending, payday lending, and money transmitter requirements. Changes to the statutes governing consumer small loans and consumer short-term loans amend the definition of “annual percentage rate” (APR) to include “all interest, finance charges, and fees,” as well as the definition of a “consumer short-term loan” to mean a loan with a principal amount or an advance on a credit limit of $1,300 (previously $1,000). The amendments outline certain prohibited actions and also cap the permissible APR on a loan at no more than 50 percent and stipulate that lenders are not permitted to add other charges or payments in connection with these loans. The changes apply to loans originated on or after January 1, 2024. The amendments also make several modifications to provisions relating to payday loans with APRs exceeding 36 percent, including requirements for conducting an ability to repay analysis. These provisions are effective January 1, 2024.
Several new provisions relating to the regulation and licensing of money transmitters are also outlined within the amendments. New definitions and exemptions are provided, as well implementation instructions that provide the state commissioner authority to “enter into agreements or relationships with other government officials or federal and state regulatory agencies and regulatory associations in order to (i) improve efficiencies and reduce regulatory burden by standardizing methods or procedures, and (ii) share resources, records, or related information obtained under this chapter.” The commissioner may also accept licensing, examination, or investigation reports, as well as audit reports, made by other state or federal government agencies. To efficiently minimize regulatory burden, the commissioner is authorized to participate in multistate supervisory processes coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), the Money Transmitter Regulators Association, and others, for all licensees that hold licenses in the state of Minnesota and other states. Additionally, the commissioner has enforcement, examination, and supervision authority, may adopt implementing regulations, and may recover costs and fees associated with applications, examinations, investigations, and other related actions. The commissioner may also participate in joint examinations or investigations with other states.
With respect to the licensing provisions, the amendments state that a “person is prohibited from engaging in the business of money transmission, or advertising, soliciting, or representing that the person provides money transmission, unless the person is licensed under this chapter” or is a licensee’s authorized delegate or exempt. Licenses are not transferable or assignable. The commissioner may establish relationships or contracts with the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry and participate in nationwide protocols for licensing cooperation and coordination among state regulators if the protocols are consistent with the outlined provisions. The amendments also outline numerous licensing application and renewal procedures including net worth and surety bond, as well as permissible investment requirements.
The same day, the Nevada governor signed AB 21 to revise certain provisions relating to the licensing and regulation of money transmitters in the state. The amendments generally revise and repeal various statutory provisions to establish a process for governing persons engaged in the business of money transmission that is modeled after the Model Money Transmission Modernization Act approved by the CSBS. Like Minnesota, the commissioner may participate in multistate supervisory processes and information sharing with other state and federal regulators. The commissioner also has expanded examination and enforcement authority over licensees. The Act is effective July 1.
Additionally, the Georgia governor signed HB 55 earlier in May to amend provisions relating to the licensing of money transmitters (and to merge provisions related to licensing of sellers of payment instruments). The Act addresses licensee requirements and prohibited activities, outlines exemptions, and provides that applications pending as of July 1, “for a seller of payment instruments license shall be deemed to be an application for a money transmitter license as of that date.” Notably, should a license be suspended, revoked, surrendered, or expired, the licensee must, “within five business days, provide documentation to the department demonstrating that the licensee has notified all applicable authorized agents whose names are on record with the department of the suspension, revocation, surrender, or expiration of the license.” The Act is also effective July 1.
The Iowa governor recently signed HF 675 to revise certain provisions of the Uniform Money Transmission Modernization Act. The Act is designed to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden and harmonize the licensing and regulation of money transmitters with other states. Among other things, the Act defines terms for when a state money services business (MSB) license is required and adds a process for joint multistate examination and supervision of MSB licensees. The Act also outlines several exemptions, including federally insured depository institutions and certain persons appointed as an agent of a payee who collect and process payments from a payor to the payee for goods or services (other than money transmission itself).
With respect to licensing provisions, the Act states that a person shall not engage in the business of money transmission unless they are licensed. New provisions modify the licensing process, including by requiring that applications be approved 121 days after completion, unless denied or approved earlier by the superintendent. The license will take effect the first business day after expiration of the 120-day period (although the superintendent may for good cause extend the application period). The Act also outlines licensing application renewal procedures, requirements for maintaining licensure, processes for person(s) seeking to acquire control of a licensee or seeking to change key individuals, authorized delegate provisions, net worth and surety bond criteria, permissible investments, and reporting and financial condition requirements, among other criteria. The Act further specifies that a person who engages in the business of money transmission on behalf of a person not licensed under the chapter “provides money transmission to the same extent as if the person were a licensee, and shall be jointly and severally liable with the unlicensed or nonexempt person.” The Act takes effect July 1.
On May 4, the Indiana governor signed SB 458, which repeals current Indiana code governing the licensing and regulation of money transmitters by the Department of Financial Institutions. The bill adds a new chapter codifying the Money Transmission Modernization Act, and outlines provisions to be administered by the Department’s Division of Consumer Credit. Among other things, the Act is designed to eliminate unnecessary regulatory burden and ensure states are able to coordinate in all areas of regulation, licensing, and supervision. The Act will also enforce compliance with applicable state and federal laws, standardize activities subject to or exempt from licensing, and modernize safety and soundness requirements to protect customer funds, while also supporting innovation and competitive business practices. The Act defines terms, outlines exemptions, and establishes authorities for the director who many enter into agreements with other government officials or regulatory agencies/associations to improve efficiencies and reduce regulatory burden. The Department is also granted authority to interpret and enforce the chapter, promulgate rules and regulations, and recover administrative and enforcement costs.
With respect to licensing provisions, the director is authorized to report complaints received concerning licensees, as well as significant or recurring violations, to the Nationwide Multi-State Licensing System and Registry (NMLS), and may use NMLS for all aspects of licensing, including applications, surety bonds, reporting, background checks, credit checks, fee processing, and examinations. Moreover, the director may also “participate in multistate supervisory processes established between states and coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, the Money Transmitter Regulators Association, and the affiliates and successors of either organization, for all licensees that hold licenses in Indiana and other states,” including entering into agreements to coordinate and share information.
The Act outlines licensing application procedures, as well as licensees’ rights, reporting and recordkeeping requirements, examination processes for outside vendors that provide services normally undertaken by the licensee, criminal penalties, surety bonds, permissible investments, authorized delegate provisions, and explains how the Act applies to licensees issued a license under the current statute, among other things. Additionally, licensees are required to pay all costs reasonably incurred in connection with an examination of the licensee or the licensee’s authorized delegate. The Act’s provisions take effect January 1, 2024.
On April 4, the Tennessee governor signed HB 316 / SB 268 to enact the Money Transmission Modernization Act, the money transmitter model law created by industry and state experts. Provisions under the Act amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 45, and are intended to (i) reduce regulatory burden by promoting coordination among the states in areas of regulation, licensing, and supervision; (ii) protect the public from financial crime; (iii) standardize activities that are subject to, or otherwise exempt from, licensure; and (iv) modernize safety and soundness requirements to protect customer funds while supporting innovative and competitive business practices. Under the Act, persons may not engage in the business of money transmission, or advertise, solicit, or hold themselves out as providing money transmission without being licensed. In addition to exempting federal and state agencies and financial institutions organized under the laws of any state or the United States, the Act now exempts “authorized delegates”—persons designated by a licensee to engage in money transmission on behalf of the licensee, and persons that fall within an outlined exemption, including persons appointed as an agent of the payee.
The Act also provides the commissioner of financial institutions with the authority to exercise various powers, including the use of the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry, and the ability to participate in multistate supervisory processes coordinated through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, Money Transmitter Regulator Association, and others for all licensees that hold licenses in Tennessee and other states. While retaining the ability to conduct examinations of licensees, the commissioner may now examine or investigate an authorized delegate. The Act also updates licensee liability requirements related to net worth assets and surety bonds and make various other changes related to audit reports and disclosure permissions. The Act further provides that “[a] person shall not engage in the business of money transmission on behalf of a person not licensed under this chapter or not exempt pursuant to § 45-7-104,” and stipulates that “[a] person that engages in such activity provides money transmission to the same extent as if the person were a licensee, and is jointly and severally liable with the unlicensed or nonexempt person.” The Act takes effect January 1, 2024.
Illinois announces new consumer protections for digital assets, proposes new money transmitter licensing provisions
On February 21, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) announced several legislative initiatives to establish consumer protections for cryptocurrencies and other digital assets and provide regulatory oversight of the broader digital asset marketplace. The Fintech-Digital Asset Bill (see HB 3479) would create the Uniform Money Transmission Modernization Act and provide for the regulation of digital asset businesses and modernize regulations for money transmission in the state. Among other things, the Fintech-Digital Asset Bill would require digital asset exchanges and other digital asset businesses to obtain a license from IDFPR to operate in the state. The bill also establishes various requirements for businesses, including investment disclosures, customer asset safeguards, and customer service standards. Companies would also be required to implement cybersecurity measures, as well as procedures for addressing business continuity, fraud, and money laundering. Notably, the Fintech-Digital Asset Bill replaces and supersedes the Transmitters of Money Act (see 205 ILCS 657) with the Money Transmission Modernization Act, in order to harmonize the licensing, regulation, and supervision of money transmitters operating across state lines. Provisions also amend the Corporate Fiduciary Act to allow for the creation of trust companies for the special purpose of acting as a fiduciary to safeguard customers’ digital assets, the announcement noted.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bill (see HB 3483) would grant the IDFPR authority to enforce the Fintech-Digital Asset Bill and strengthen the department’s authority and resources for enforcing existing consumer financial protections. Modeled after the Dodd-Frank Act, the Consumer Financial Protection Bill empowers the IDFPR with the ability to target unfair, deceptive, and abusive acts and practices by unlicensed financial services providers. The bill creates the Consumer Financial Protection Law and the Financial Protection Fund, and establishes provisions related to supervision, registration requirements, consumer protection, cybersecurity, anti-fraud and anti-money laundering, enforcement, procedures, and rulemaking. The Consumer Financial Protection Bill also includes provisions concerning court orders, penalty of perjury, character and fitness of licensees, and consent orders and settlement agreements, and makes amendments to various application, license, and examination fees. The bill does so by amending the Collection Agency Act, Currency Exchange Act, Sales Finance Agency Act, Debt Management Service Act, Consumer Installment Loan Act, and Debt Settlement Consumer Protection Act.
On September 27, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) sent a letter to Ranking Member of the Senate Banking Committee Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) detailing state bank regulators’ role in supervising money transmission and virtual currencies, in addition to recommending an activities-based approach to regulation. The letter is in response to a request by Senator Toomey for input on the regulation of financial technologies earlier this year. In Senator Toomey’s August 26 letter, he requested collection of public comments on proposed legislative language, among other things, to regulate emerging technologies. The Senator also requested that each proposal have a brief description that includes “how it will encourage the growth of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology” in the U.S. According to the letter from CSBS, state bank regulators are encouraging “Congress and federal regulators to focus on the activities at issue and making clarifications in existing laws, regulations, and interpretations,” and believe that “[a]n activities-based approach must be performed with collaboration from all stakeholders or risk one regulatory view overextending into areas where it would hurt innovation and consumers.” CSBS also points out that the Money Transmission Modernization Act established a regulatory baseline and represents a critical step in enhancing multistate harmonization in the money transmission industry. CSBS further discussed Networked Supervision, a strengthened collaboration which permits states to operate as a network. According to the letter, earlier this year, CSBS approved public priorities, which highlighted efforts that states will take to advance Networked Supervision focused on money services businesses. CSBS states that these priorities “emphasize the states’ commitment to harmonization, collaboration, and innovation throughout the state regulatory system.”
On September 9, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) released the Uniform Money Transmission Modernization Act as part of states’ broader effort for modernizing the state financial regulatory system. The act, also referred to as the Money Transmitter Model Law, is intended to replace 50 sets of state-specific money transmitter laws and rules with a single set of nationwide standards and requirements designed by state and industry experts. According to CSBS, the law is a result of continuing discussion among state regulators and industry that began under CSBS’ “Vision 2020”, which convened a Fintech Industry Advisory Panel to determine pain points in the state system (previously covered by InfoBytes here). Among other things, the law: (i) “[p]rovides regulators with the tools needed to regulate money transmitters of all sizes, including those that operate globally or small businesses operating locally”; (ii) standardizes definitions, exemptions, the licensing process, the change in control process, and requirements regarding safety and soundness; (iii) enables multistate licensing and multi state supervision; and (iv) “[f]acilitates the development of technology and data analytics necessary to supervise at scale with local accountability.” CSBS also notes that the law will benefit customers of companies that offer digital wallets, prepaid cards, money orders and cash or virtual currency transmissions by establishing a common regulatory floor and standardized and risk-based requirements. In addition to the law, CSBS released Money Transmitter Model Law FAQs and Fintech Industry Advisory Panel Recommendations.