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  • CFPB succession update: CFPB requests zero funding; seeks public comment regarding Bureau’s activities; & more

    Federal Issues

    On January 17, in a letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney requested zero dollars for the Bureau’s quarterly operating funds. Each fiscal quarter, as required by law, the CFPB formally requests that the Federal Reserve transfer a specified amount of money to the Bureau so it can perform the functions outlined in its budget. In his letter, Mulvaney stated that the prior Director maintained a “reserve fund” for the CFPB, and the money in this fund is sufficient to cover the CFPB’s expenses for the second quarter. This will be the first time in the history of the CFPB that its Director has requested no additional amount to fund quarterly operations. The CFPB also announced its plan to publish a series of Requests for Information (RFIs) in the Federal Register seeking public input on the way the Bureau is performing its statutory obligations. These RFIs will request “comment on enforcement, supervision, rulemaking, market monitoring, and education activities.” The first RFI will seek information regarding the Bureau’s Civil Investigative Demand processes and procedures.

    On January 18, the CFPB voluntarily dismissed its case against four online installment lenders for allegedly deceiving customers by collecting debts that were not legally owed, previously covered by InfoBytes here. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleged, among other things, that the lenders engaged in unfair, abusive, and deceptive acts—a violation of the Dodd-Frank Act—by collecting on installment loans that are partially or wholly void under state law. In September 2017, the case was transferred to Kansas, where the Bureau’s notice of dismissal was filed. The notice does not specify a reason for the dismissal.

    Federal Issues CFPB Succession CFPB Enforcement CIDs Federal Reserve Federal Register UDAAP Installment Loans Debt Collection

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  • Agencies Release CRA Asset-Size Threshold Adjustments

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 21, the Federal Reserve, the OCC, and the FDIC (collectively, the “Agencies”) jointly announced the adjusted thresholds for asset-size used to define “small” and “intermediate small” banks and savings associations under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). Effective January 1, 2018, a small bank or savings association will be defined as an institution that, as of December 31 of either of the past two calendar years, had assets of less than $1.252 billion. Additionally, an “intermediate small” bank or “intermediate small” savings association will be defined as an institution with at least $313 million and less than $1.252 billion in assets as of December 31 of either of the past two calendar years. The agencies published the annual adjustments in the Federal Register on December 27.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CRA OCC Federal Reserve FDIC Federal Register

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  • Federal Reserve Issues Final Rules Reflecting Credit and Interest Rate Increases

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On December 20, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed) issued a final rule amending Regulation A (Extensions of Credit by Federal Reserve Banks) to reflect its December 13 approval of a one-quarter percent increase in the primary credit rate at each Federal Reserve Bank. Additionally, because the formula for the secondary credit rate references the primary rate, the secondary credit rate also increased by one-quarter percentage point. The rate changes took effect on December 14, and the final rule became effective on December 20.

    The same day, the Fed also issued a final rule amending Regulation D (Reserve Requirements of Depository Institutions) to reflect its December 13 approval of a one-quarter percent increase to the “rate of interest paid on balances maintained to satisfy reserve balance requirements (“IORR”) and the rate of interest paid on excess balances (“IOER”) maintained at Federal Reserve Banks by or on behalf of eligible institutions.” The rate changes took effect on December 14, and the final rule became effective on December 20.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve Regulation A Regulation D Federal Register

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  • CFTC Issues Proposed Interpretation of “Actual Delivery” in Virtual Currency Transactions; Launches Virtual Currency Resource Page

    Fintech

    On December 15, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) announced a proposed interpretation concerning its authority over transactions involving virtual currency, which includes its view regarding the term “actual delivery” in the context of retail virtual currency transactions. According to the proposed interpretation, the CFTC claims that it has “explicit oversight authority” over “retail commodity transactions” under Section 2(c)(2)(D) of the Commodity Exchange Act. Applying a broad definition of the term virtual currency, the CFTC believes that these type of currencies are commodities, which means that certain transactions in virtual currencies are subject to CFTC oversight.

    The proposed interpretation sets forth two primary factors that market participants must demonstrate to prove “actual delivery” of virtual currency in connection with retail commodity transactions:

    • a customer has the ability to “(i) take possession and control of the entire quantity of the commodity, whether it was purchased on margin, or using leverage, or any other financing arrangement, and (ii) use it freely in commerce (both within and away from any particular platform) no later than 28 days from the date of the transaction”; and
    • “the offeror and counterparty seller (including any of their respective affiliates or other persons acting in concert with the offeror or counterparty seller on a similar basis) does not retain any interest in or control over any of the commodity purchased on margin, leverage, or other financing arrangement at the expiration of 28 days from the date of the transaction.”

    Comments on the proposed regulation must be received on or before March 20, 2018.

    In October, the CFTC’s LabCFTC released “A CFTC Primer on Virtual Currencies,” which discusses potential use-cases for virtual currencies, outlines the agency’s role and oversight of virtual currencies, and highlights the risks associated with virtual currencies. The CFTC also launched its own webpage with virtual currency resources and a customer advisory warning of the risks of virtual currency trading.

    Fintech Virtual Currency CFTC Federal Register Bitcoin

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  • FTC Settles With Dallas Auto Dealer for Alleged Deceptive Advertisements

    Lending

    On December 1, the FTC announced a proposed order to settle with a Dallas, Texas auto dealership for alleged deceptive advertisements containing loan and lease terms in Spanish-language newspapers. According to the FTC, the dealership violated the FTC Act by prominently displaying advantageous loan and lease terms in Spanish and qualifying those terms in smaller-print English at the bottom of the page. The FTC alleges the dealership misrepresented (i) the total cost of purchasing or leasing; (ii) the underwriting restrictions for the advertised loan or lease; and (iii) the availability of the inventory advertised. Additionally, the FTC alleged that the dealership violated Truth in Lending Act and the Consumer Leasing Act by failing to “clearly and conspicuously” disclose credit and lease terms. The proposal requires the dealership to cease the allegedly deceptive conduct and comply with all applicable advertisement regulations in the future. The proposal is published in the Federal Register and is open for public comment until January 2, 2018.

    Lending Auto Finance FTC Settlement FTC Act TILA CLA Federal Register

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  • Federal Banking Agencies Amend CRA Regulations to Conform With HMDA Regulation Changes

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 24, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and OCC published a joint final rule in the Federal Register, amending their respective Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations. The amended regulations conform with the CFPB’s amendments to Regulation C, which implements the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The amendments are designed to reduce the burden associated with CRA performance evaluation reporting requirements. Specifically, the amended regulations (i) modify the definitions of “home mortgage loan” and “consumer loan”; (ii) revise the public file content requirements; and (iii) make technical corrections and remove obsolete references to the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (see previous InfoBytes coverage here).

    As previously reported in InfoBytes, amendments to Regulation C generally take effect January 1, 2018, with the agencies’ specific amendments to the CRA regulations taking effect the same day.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Federal Reserve FDIC HMDA Regulation C CRA Federal Register

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  • CFPB Requests Comments on Overdraft Disclosures; CFPB Announces Final Language Access Plan; Holds Ceiling at $12.00 for Allowable FCRA Charges

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 15, the CFPB published a request for comment on a proposal to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to conduct online testing of point of sale/ATM (POS/ATM) overdraft disclosure forms. In the request, the Bureau invited comments on, (i) “[w]hether the collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Bureau, including whether the information will have practical utility”; (ii) “[t]he accuracy of the Bureau’s estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methods and the assumptions used”; (iii) “[w]ays to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected”; and (iv) “[w]ays to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including through the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.” Comments must be received by January 16, 2018.

    On November 16, the CFPB released the final version of its Language Access Plan (Plan) to provide non-English speaking persons access to its programs and services. The Plan highlights two key language access functions of the Bureau: offering translated consumer-facing brochures and handling complaints from consumers in multiple languages. The Bureau originally proposed the Plan in 2014 (covered previously by InfoBytes). The final Plan is current as of November 13, 2017.

    CFPB also announced on November 16 that the maximum allowable charges for certain disclosures under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) will remain at the current level. Each year the original amount referenced in the FCRA must be readjusted (and rounded to the nearest fifty cents) based on the annual percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U). The amount for 2018, based on the annual percentage increase in the CPI-U, remains unchanged at $12.00.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance FCRA CFPB Consumer Finance Federal Register Consumer Education

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  • CFPB Publishes Two RFIs Concerning Free Access to Credit Scores

    Consumer Finance

    On November 13, the CFPB’s Office of Financial Education (OFE) published two requests for information (RFI) in the Federal Register concerning free access to credit scores. The first RFI requests information related to (i) consumers’ experience when accessing free credit scores, and (ii) the experience of companies and nonprofits when offering free access to credit scores to their customers and the general public. The Bureau plans to use the information gathered through the RFI to, among other things, “identify educational content that is providing the most value to consumers, and additional educational content that the Bureau or others could develop to increase consumers’ understanding of credit scores and credit reports.” Comments must be received by February 12, 2018.

    The second RFI requests information on companies that provide existing customers free access to a credit score.  This information will be used to update OFE’s March 2017 list of companies that offer this service. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Following its update to the list, the CFPB intends to publish information “to educate consumers about the availability of credit scores and credit reports and how this information can be used effectively.” Comments must be received by January 12, 2018.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Credit Scores Federal Register

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  • Federal Banking Agencies Seek Comments on Proposal to Further Streamline Call Reports

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On November 2, the Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, and OCC (agencies)—all members of the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC)—issued a joint notice and request for comment on a proposal to further streamline the Consolidated Reports of Condition and Income (Call Reports) in an effort to reduce data reporting requirements and regulatory burdens for financial institutions. The proposal would modify Call Reports applicable to banks with (i) domestic offices only and less than $1 billion in total assets (FFIEC 051); (ii) domestic offices only (FFIEC 041); and (iii) domestic and foreign offices (FFIEC 031). The proposed revisions, which would eliminate or combine several data items and revise certain existing reporting thresholds, would take effect as of the June 30, 2018, report date. Comments on the proposal are due within 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

    Previous requests for proposed burden-reducing Call Report revisions were submitted by the agencies in August 2016 and June 2017. (See InfoBytes’ coverage of the August request here.)

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Reserve FDIC OCC FFIEC Call Report Federal Register

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  • FinCEN Announces Final Rule Restricting North Korea’s Access to U.S. Financial System; Issues Advisory Regarding North Korean Strategies

    Financial Crimes

    On November 2, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a final rule (Rule) under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT ACT, which prohibits U.S. financial institutions from processing transactions for foreign correspondent accounts involving a Chinese bank (Bank) that was suspected of facilitating illicit North Korean financial activity and laundering funds to finance North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs. U.S. financial institutions are also instructed to apply enhanced due diligence to foreign correspondent accounts to prevent them from being used to process transactions involving the Bank. The Rule is effective 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

    In tandem with the issuance of the Rule, FinCEN issued an advisory (FIN-2017-A008) to warn U.S. financial institutions about strategies used by North Korean enterprises as a means to gain access to international financial systems, including (i) the use of a network of global financial representatives; (ii) trade-based payment schemes; (iii) front and shell companies; (iv) surge activity cycles; and (v) financial institutions that operate in areas bordering North Korea. The advisory’s regulatory guidance is designed to assist financial institutions in identifying and reporting suspicious activity by North Korea and its financial institutions. The guidance follows a September 26 announcement by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control that imposed additional sanctions on North Korean banks and individuals connected to global North Korean financial networks. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.)

    Financial Crimes FinCEN Sanctions Anti-Money Laundering Federal Register

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