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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB Succession: Bureau asks court to stay payday rule litigation; Mulvaney: Bureau may resume PII collection; working on a fintech regulatory “sandbox”; will consider scale and frequency of violations in future actions

Federal Issues CFPB CFPB Succession Enforcement Fintech Payday Rule Single-Director Structure

Federal Issues

On May 31, the CFPB filed a joint motion with two payday loan trade groups, requesting a stay of litigation pending the Bureau’s reconsideration of its final rule on payday loans, vehicle title loans, and certain other high-cost installment loans (Rule) and requesting a stay of the compliance date—currently set for August 19, 2019 for most substantive sections—of the Rule until 445 days after final judgment in the litigation. The motion argues that the stay is necessary for the duration of the rulemaking process because “the rulemaking process may result in repeal or revisions of the [Rule] and thereby moot or otherwise resolve this litigation.”  As previously covered by InfoBytes, on April 9, the payday loan trade groups filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas asking the court to set aside the Rule because, among other reasons, the CFPB is unconstitutional and the Bureau’s rulemaking failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. The Bureau announced its intention to reconsider the Rule in January, and reiterated that intent in its Spring 2018 rulemaking agenda.   

Additionally, acting Director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, reportedly lifted the ban on the Bureau’s collection of personally identifiable information after an independent review concluded that “externally facing Bureau systems appear to be well-secured.” The ban was initially announced in December 2017, soon after Mulvaney began his acting role.

On May 29, Mulvaney stated in response to a question at a luncheon hosted by the Women in Housing & Finance that the CFPB is working closely with the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on developing a regulatory “sandbox” for fintech companies—which would provide targeted regulatory relief for companies to test new consumer financial products. While he did not provide many details on the project, he did note the Bureau was reviewing similar state actions for guidance (as previously covered by InfoBytes, Arizona was the first state to create a regulatory sandbox for fintech innovation). Additionally, in response to another question, Mulvaney noted that the Bureau may begin to take into account the scale and frequency of violations when determining whether to take action against a company; a practice, according to Mulvaney, that was not done under previous leadership. When referring to his authority to decide when to pursue an action, he stated, “I think if [a company is] doing something less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the time, maybe…it's evidence of a lack of criminal intent, and maybe there's a good place ... for me to execute some prosecutorial discretion."

Overall, Mulvaney’s remarks were consistent with previous comments about the direction of the Bureau, including his intention to end the practice of “regulation by enforcement” and his desire to move the CFPB under the Congressional appropriations process. He noted that he is still in the process of reviewing the public disclosure of consumer complaints and whether or not the Consumer Complaint Database will continue to be publicly available. Additionally, he was unable to provide a status update on the Bureau’s future debt collection rule (the Spring 2018 rulemaking agenda lists the rule in a “Proposed Rule Stage” and has the deadline for a notice of proposed rulemaking set for February 2019, see InfoBytes coverage here). Lastly, he reiterated the Bureau’s recent announcement that it is reviewing applications of the disparate impact doctrine under ECOA, stating that he is “reviewing all of [the Bureau’s] rules regarding ECOA, not just in auto lending” because Dodd-Frank requires that the Bureau “enforce federal consumer financial law consistently without regard to the status of the person.”   

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