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  • Conference of State Bank Supervisors releases nationwide list of fintech innovation contacts

    Fintech

    On April 10, following a nationwide fintech forum for state banking regulators and financial services executives co-hosted by the New York Department of Financial Services and the Conference of State Banking Supervisors (CSBS), CSBS issued a press release announcing that regulators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have designated an “Innovation Staff Contact” within each of their offices to facilitate and streamline communications between state regulators and the financial services industry. Fintech topics include money transmissions, payments, lending, and licensing. According to the president of CSBS, “State regulators see how fintech is reshaping the financial services industry. And an Innovation Contact is but the latest step that states are taking to engage with industry and modernize nonbank regulation.” Last year, as previously covered in InfoBytes, CSBS introduced “Vision 2020,” an initiative geared towards streamlining the state regulatory system to support business innovation and harmonize licensing and supervisory practices, while still protecting the rights of consumers. Additionally, this past February, CSBS announced that financial regulators from seven states have agreed to a multi-state compact that will offer a streamlined licensing process for money services businesses, including fintech firms. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.)

    Fintech NYDFS CSBS Nonbank Supervision

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  • Seven state regulators agree to streamline money service licensing process for fintech companies

    Fintech

    On February 6, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced that financial regulators from seven states have agreed to a multi-state compact that will offer a streamlined licensing process for money services businesses (MSB), including fintech firms. The seven states initially participating in the MSB licensing agreement are Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. The CSBS expects other states to join the compact. According to the CSBS, “[i]f one state reviews key elements of state licensing for a money transmitter—IT, cybersecurity, business plan, background check, and compliance with the federal Bank Secrecy Act—then other participating states agree to accept the findings.” CSBS noted that the agreement is the first step in efforts undertaken by state regulators to create an integrated system for licensing and supervising fintech companies across all 50 states.

    The announcement of the MSB licensing agreement follows a May 2017 CSBS policy statement, which established the 50-state goal, and—as previously covered by InfoBytes—is a part of previously announced “Vision 2020” initiatives designed to modernize and streamline the state regulatory system to be capable of supporting business innovation while still protecting the rights of consumers.

    Fintech State Issues State Regulators Licensing CSBS Money Service / Money Transmitters Compliance Bank Secrecy Act

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  • CSBS announces FTC access to non-confidential NMLS licensing information

    Lending

    On January 18, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced it will start sharing non-confidential licensing information obtained through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) with the FTC. Once implemented, the FTC will have access to regulated companies’ ownership information, and public FTC enforcement actions will be added to the NMLS database and made available to state regulators and to the public. According to the FTC, access to this type of information will improve consumer protection investigation efficiency and coordination with state law enforcement partners. Currently, select NMLS data is shared with the Office of Financial Research, CFPB, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and FHA.

    Lending CSBS FTC NMLS Enforcement

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  • CSBS Accepting Licensing Renewal Applications from Non-Depository Financial Institutions

    State Issues

    On November 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced it is accepting state license renewal applications through December 31 from non-depository financial institutions that wish to continue operating in 2018. Institutions can submit licensing renewals through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS)—operated by CSBS on behalf of state regulators. However, CSBS warned institutions to apply early, noting that last year “almost 93 percent of renewal applications submitted by November 30 were approved by December 31, [but] only about 49 percent of license renewals requested after December 15 were approved by the end of the year.”

    As previously announced in InfoBytes, the New York Department of Financial Services recently announced that it will transition licensed lenders and sales finance companies to the NMLS, as part of its continued initiative to link with other states and provide enhanced supervision of non-depository institutions.

    State Issues CSBS Licensing NMLS

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  • FDIC Chairman Delivers Remarks Concerning the Strengths and Challenges Facing Community Banks

    Federal Issues

    On October 23, FDIC Chairman, Martin J. Gruenberg, spoke at an event hosted by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors about the important role community banks play in the U.S. financial system. Gruenberg noted that comparing the performance of community banks to noncommunity banks in the post-crisis period can be instructive. For instance, “community bank loans have grown faster than loans held at noncommunity banks in: 1- to 4-family mortgages, commercial real estate loans, and commercial and industrial loans.” In fact, Gruenberg stated, “[i]n each of the past three years, annual growth in community bank net income has equaled or exceeded growth at noncommunity banks.” Further, community banks continue to provide more credit for small business and banking services in general in non-metro areas.

    Gruenberg went on to highlight some of the challenges facing community banks: (i) fewer resources for burdensome regulatory compliance; (ii) appraiser availability and shortages, especially in rural areas; (iii) complex capital requirements; (iv) the ability to effectively respond to information technology challenges, such as maintaining strong cybersecurity programs; and (v) succession planning and staff recruitment. Beyond agency efforts to address these concerns through advisors and proposed changes, Gruenberg spoke about the FDIC’s Community Banking Initiative, which offers resources and tools to help community banks stay informed of regulatory changes and manage costs.

    Federal Issues FDIC Community Banks CSBS

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  • CSBS Announces Membership of Fintech Advisory Panel

    Fintech

    On October 19, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced that 33 financial technology companies have agreed to serve on the CSBS Fintech Industry Advisory Panel. The goal of the panel is to identify ways to help modernize the state regulatory system.   According to CSBS, the 33 participating companies range from start-ups to national brands and represent differing industry sectors, as well as, geographic locations and business models. The advisory panel will have three working groups, (i) money transmission and payments; (ii) lending; and (iii) community banking and innovation.

    A complete list of the panel’s membership is here.

    Fintech State Regulators CSBS

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  • OCC Acting Comptroller Discusses Innovation and Technology in the Financial Services Industry

    Fintech

    On October 19, OCC Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith A. Noreika spoke at Georgetown University’s Institute of International Economic Law’s Fintech Week to discuss innovation within the financial technology sector and its impact on the evolution of the financial services marketplace. “[W]hat has allowed the business of banking to evolve so successfully is that we have remained open to change and created a framework of laws and regulation over time that allows banking activities to evolve,” Noreika remarked. “[W]e have to be careful to avoid defining banking too narrowly or in a stagnant way that prevents the system from taking advantage of responsible advances in technology and commerce.”

    Noreika spoke about the OCC’s Office of Innovation (Office), which was created earlier this year to facilitate discussions related to fintech and financial innovation. A pilot framework is currently being developed by the Office to create a “controlled environment” for banks to develop and test products to provide insight into a “proposed product’s controls and risks” and how it might possibly impact OCC policies in the future.

    Noreika also discussed the OCC’s position on issuing special purpose national bank charters to non-depository fintech companies seeking to expand into the banking sector—a concept currently being contested by both the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), and one which the OCC has not yet made a decision (See previous InfoBytes coverage of CSBS’ and NYDFS’ challenges here and here.) Addressing claims that fintech charters would inappropriately mix banking and commerce, Noreika refuted the argument and stated that his suggestion was to “talk to any company interested in becoming a bank and that commercial companies should not be prohibited from applying—if they meet the criteria for doing so.” Further, a “chartered entity, regulated by the OCC, would be a bank, engaged in at least one of the core activities of banking” as defined by the Bank Holding Company Act.

    Fintech OCC Bank Holding Company Act CSBS NYDFS Banking

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  • CSBS Files Motion in Opposition to OCC’s Motion to Dismiss Fintech Charter Challenge

    Fintech

    On September 13, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) filed its response to the OCC’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the agency, which challenged its statutory authority to create a special purpose national bank (SPNB) charter for fintech companies. As previously discussed in InfoBytes, the OCC argued in its motion to dismiss that the CSBS lawsuit was premature because the agency has not reached a decision on whether it will make SPNB charters available to fintech companies or other nonbank firms. The OCC further asserted that under the National Bank Act (NBA), its interpretation of “the business of banking” deserves Chevron deference. In its response, CSBS disagreed and argued that in December 2016 the OCC “formally announced” its decision to begin chartering nonbanks, and that with the publication of a supplement to its Licensing Manual—which both stated its authority to issue SPNP charters to “institutions that neither take deposits nor are insured by the [FDIC]” and “invited interested parties to initiate the application process”—the OCC “crystalized its position.”

    In addressing other issues raised by the OCC in support of dismissal of the lawsuit, CSBS argued that:

    • CSBS has sufficient injury for standing because the OCC’s decision to grant charters interferes with states’ sovereignty and the ability to oversee and enforce state licensing and consumer protection laws;
    • the court must test the underlying legal premise, which is that the “OCC lacks the requisite statutory authority under the [NBA] to encroach upon the regulation of nonbanks by issuing national bank charters to institutions that do not take deposits, and therefore do not engage in the ‘business of banking’” because “there is no point in either [the] OCC or its charter applicants devoting resources to ultra vires charters that will be invalidated”;
    • the OCC’s position that CSBS has “failed to state a claim” concerning the interpretation of the “business of banking” is unsupported, and the court “must consider the statutory context of the term, including a regulatory regime that encompasses not only the NBA, but also other federal banking statutes” to conclude that the “business of banking” necessarily includes the taking of deposits; and
    • if the OCC seeks to expand its authority “into areas traditionally occupied by states, courts require a clear showing that Congress, acting through the agency, has approved such a result”—which the OCC has not shown.

    Fintech Courts CSBS OCC Litigation Licensing

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  • CFPB, Federal and State Banking Agencies Issue Guidance for Financial Institutions on Providing Disaster Relief to Consumers

    Consumer Finance

    As previously reported in InfoBytes, several federal banking agencies have already issued guidance and resources for national banks and federal savings associations aiding consumers affected by recent disasters. On September 1, the CFPB issued a statement for CFPB-supervised entities on ways to provide assistance to consumers who may be at financial risk. The list includes:

    • offering penalty-free forbearance or repayment periods with disclosed terms;
    • limiting or waiving fees and charges, including overdraft fees, ATM fees, or late fees;
    • restructuring or refinancing existing debt, including extending repayment terms;
    • easing documentation or credit-extension requirements;
    • increasing capacity for customer service hotlines, particularly those that serve consumers in languages other than English; and
    • increasing ATM daily cash withdrawal limits.

    The statement further suggests that supervised entities should utilize existing regulatory flexibility if doing so would benefit affected consumers. Included are examples from Regulations B, X, and Z. Additionally, the Bureau stated it will “consider the circumstances that supervised entities may face following a major disaster and will be sensitive to good faith efforts to assist consumers.”

    The CFPB separately published a blog post for consumers containing a financial toolkit that includes links to disaster relief organizations, ways to secure financial needs, and information on forbearance options, insurance settlements, and contractor evaluations. The CFPB also issued a warning to consumers of the increased risk of scams and fraud.

    In related news, on September 6, the Federal Reserve Board, Conference of State Bank Supervisors, FDIC, and OCC issued a joint press release for financial institutions that may be impacted by Hurricane Irma. The agencies encouraged constructive cooperation with borrowers, noting that “prudent efforts to adjust or alter terms on existing loans in affected areas should not be subject to examiner criticism.” Guidance was also issued on matters concerning Community Reinvestment Act considerations, investments, regulatory reporting requirements, publishing requirements, and temporary banking facilities.

    Consumer Finance CFPB Federal Reserve CSBS FDIC OCC CRA Lending Mortgages Disaster Relief Mortgage Modification

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  • OCC Files Motion to Dismiss CSBS Suit Over Fintech National Bank Charter

    Fintech

    On July 28, the OCC filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) challenging the OCC’s fintech charter. See Conf. of State Bank Supervisors v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Case 1:17-cv-00763-JEB (D.D.C. Jul. 28, 2017). In a memorandum supporting its motion to dismiss, the OCC argued that CSBS does not have standing to bring the case because the OCC has not yet come to a decision on whether it will make special purpose national bank charters available to fintech companies and other nonbank firms, and therefore, “[n]o tangible effect on CSBS or CSBS's members could even arguably occur until a 5.20(e)(1) Charter has been issued to a specific applicant.” For similar reasons, the OCC argued that the case was not ripe for judicial review.

    Addressing the merits, the OCC cited Independent Community Bankers Ass’n of South Dakota, Inc. v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 820 F.2d 428 (D.C. Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 1004 (1988), arguing that the ruling confirms its authority to issue special purpose bank charters and “illustrates that the legal concept of a special purpose national bank power is not novel or unprecedented, but rather follows a decades-old OCC practice.” The OCC further argued that under the National Bank Act, the OCC’s interpretation of “the business of banking”—in which a special purpose bank “must conduct at least one of the following three core banking functions: receiving deposits; paying checks; or lending money”—deserves Chevron deference.

    As previously discussed in a Special Alert, CSBS claimed the fintech charter violates the National Bank Act, Administrative Procedure Act, and the U.S. Constitution, and that the OCC has acted beyond the legal limits of its authority. Furthermore, CSBS asserts that providing special purpose national bank charters to fintech companies “exposes taxpayers to the risk of inevitable [fintech] failures.”

    However, shortly after the OCC’s motion was filed, a federal judge ordered that the OCC’s motion to dismiss be stricken based on excessive footnoting. The judge, in a minute order on the docket, cited that the excessive number of footnotes “appear[] to be an effort to circumvent page limitations.” On August 2, the OCC filed a renewed motion to dismiss.

    Fintech Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CSBS Courts OCC Litigation Licensing

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