Weekly Fintech Focus

  • Bank regulators issue long-awaited guidance on offering small-dollar, short-term loans.
  • CFPB issues small-dollar lending no-action letter template.
  • CFPB provides guidance to people receiving pandemic relief on prepaid cards.
  • FinCEN issues guidance on COVID-19-related financial crimes.
  • Plaid announces the launch of a bank API development program to give banks, especially small banks, control over account data sharing with fintechs.
  • Libra Association hires former FinCEN director to be its general counsel.
  • FIS survey documents change in consumer banking behaviors from COVID-19.
  • Cashwire and Workday team up for automatic wire transfers.

Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of May 22, 2020

Weekly Fintech Focus

  • FinCEN fines former bank officer $450 million for AML failures at the bank.
  • CFPB hosts a symposium on consumer access to financial records and data aggregation.
  • CSBS requests additional comments for MSB Model Law.
  • FDIC requests input on modernization for bank advertising requirements.

Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of March 6, 2020

Weekly Fintech Focus

  • FDIC releases a guide about the risk assessment and due diligence frameworks required when fintechs partner with banks.
  • Revolut valued at $5.5 Billion after new funding round.
  • FATF blacklists Iran for failing to improve its terrorist financing safeguards.
  • FTC provides annual letter to CFPB on the agency’s ECOA activities.
  • FTC releases a report on its small business financing forum, with emphasis on unfair and deceptive practices.
  • CFPB commits to meet certain deadlines for issuing its small business loan data rule as part of a settlement.
  • The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) published its guidelines on outsourcing to cloud service providers, following closely the guidance provided recently by the European Banking Authority.
  • SEC Charges Settled Against Actor Steven Seagal in Bitcoiin2Gen ICO

Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of February 28, 2020

Weekly Fintech Focus

  • CSBS launches a streamlined state exam system for fintech companies and other nonbanks.
  • FinCEN announces a new Digital Innovation Officer with experience in cryptocurrency.
  • Senators seek answers from fintech lenders regarding disparate impact claims related to potential proxies for protected classes used in the lenders’ underwriting processes.
  • ESMA evaluates the role of BigTech in financial services.
  • Visa gives Coinbase principal status.
  • FDIC publishes application procedures for non-bank and non-traditional community banks.
  • Varo Money becomes first fintech to receive approval for a full bank charter from the FDIC.
  • LendingClub buys Radius Bank for $185 million.
  • The NYDFS will host a Financial Innovation & Inclusion Symposium on April 2 in NYC.
  • The Brazilian Central Bank announces launch of a “Near-Instant” payment system.

Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of February 21, 2020

CFPB Proposes to Expand Certain Remittance Transfer Safe Harbors

To reduce compliance costs for certain banks, credit unions and other insured financial institutions, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) proposed amendments to Regulation E to increase the safe-harbor available to insured financial institutions that provide a limited amount of remittance transfers from being categorized as a remittance transfer service provider.  Under the proposal, the limit on remittances would be raised from the current limit of 100 or fewer transfers in the prior year to 500 or fewer transfers.  Remittance transfers are generally defined as electronic transfers of money from a consumer in the United States to an international location.
Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of December 6, 2019

The Fed Chairman Comments on Potential for a US-backed Digital Currency

Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, wrote to Congress this week discussing the merits of implementing a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the U.S. The letter responds to a number of questions posed by lawmakers regarding the value that a digital currency would provide and implementation challenges that would need to be overcome. Two Congressmen had expressed concern that the U.S. is being left behind in the wake of technological advances.

Chairman Powell indicates that the U.S. is not currently developing a CBDC, but the Fed is monitoring development elsewhere. Chairman Powell noted that some of the motivating factors for  a digital currency in foreign countries do not necessarily exist in the U.S. Specifically, the demand for cash in the U.S. “remains robust” and there are fast and reliable digital payment services available that are not available in certain other countries.
Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of November 22, 2019

U.S. Developments

FinCEN and Others Issue Joint Statement on BSA/AML Examinations

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and several other federal banking regulators, including the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, issued a joint statement on Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering (BSA/AML) examinations of bank compliance programs. The joint statement does not establish new requirements, but rather is an effort to provide additional transparency regarding the risk-based approach these regulators take when conducting their examinations.
Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of August 2, 2019

U.S. Developments

Regulatory Developments

House Task Force Looks to Allow Alternative Data for Credit Scoring

A newly formed U.S. House of Representatives task force, the Financial Technology Task Force, held a hearing this week to discuss a proposed bill that would allow new types of data to appear on consumer credit reports, including items like rent and phone payments. Proponents of the bill argue that in an era of more people renting, a large population of consumers could have positive payment histories excluded from their credit reports under the existing regulations.

Consumer advocates at the hearing cautioned lawmakers that some lower-income consumers could be hurt by the inclusion of this alternative data, including tenants who withhold rent payments due to substandard living conditions.
Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of July 26, 2019

CFPB Proposes Changes to Debt Collector Rules

On May 7, 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) detailed a plan to update the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The proposed rule would reduce the number of phone calls collectors can make to debtors, while providing clarity as to how collectors can use other communication methods, like email and text messages. The rule would limit the number of calls a collector can make to collect a specific debt to seven per week. Additionally, if a collector engages in a telephonic conversation with the debtor, the collector must wait a week before calling the debtor again. The rule, however, would not limit the number of emails or text messages that a debt collector can send to try and collect on an outstanding debt. The plan would clarify that emails and text messages are governed by the same rules as phone calls, including a bar on contacting consumers before 8AM or after 9PM and contacting consumers at their workplaces in the majority of situations. The proposed rule would also provide sample templates for how collectors could provide required disclosures when making electronic communications. Debtors could opt-out of any of the communication methods under the proposed rule. The proposed rule applies to third-party collectors who are typically either sold the debt from the original creditor or hired by the original creditor to collect on their behalf. The CFPB is inviting public comments on the proposed rule before finalizing any changes to the existing rule.
Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of May 6–10, 2019

U.S. Developments

Regulatory Updates

OCC Seeks Comments on Proposed Innovation Pilot Program

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) is soliciting public comment on its proposed Innovation Pilot Program. Similar to state-level regulatory sandbox models, the proposed program would allow OCC-supervised financial institutions, including those working with third-party vendors, to apply to test pilots of potential products and services and receive early regulatory input from the OCC. Eligible entities may propose a pilot individually or collaborate with multiple banks in a consortium. The OCC will consider proposals at various stages of development, from proof of concept to live testing of pilots. To enter a pilot, an eligible entity will have a preliminary discussion with the OCC about the proposed pilot, and then after the discussion submit an expression of interest (an “EOI”) that addresses the description of the pilot, including a summary of proposed controls and safeguards and the desired OCC engagement. The OCC will then evaluate the pilot to determine if it is a fit for the program. OCC engagement in a pilot will last no less than three months and no greater than 24 months, with the duration subject to a case-by-case determination by the OCC. During the pilot, the entity will be required to submit periodic reports on its progress. The proposed program comes out of the OCC’s existing innovation office, but is separate from its new fintech national bank charter. The OCC’s Chief Innovation Officer, Beth Knickerbocker, has noted that blockchain technology could be an option for these pilot projects, and the OCC is going to consider how it supervises such activity by banks.
Continue Reading Fintech Week in Review: Week of April 29 – May 3, 2019