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  • House passes bill that would effectively overturn Madden; others amend RESPA disclosure requirements and adjust points and fees definitions under TILA

    Federal Issues

    On February 14, in a bipartisan vote of 245-171, the House passed H.R. 3299, the “Protecting Consumers Access to Credit Act of 2017,” to codify the “valid-when-made” doctrine and ensure that a bank loan that was valid as to its maximum rate of interest in accordance with federal law at the time the loan was made shall remain valid with respect to that rate, regardless of whether the bank subsequently sells or assigns the loan to a third party. As previously covered in InfoBytes, this regulatory reform bill would effectively overturn the 2015 decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, which ruled that debt buyers cannot use their relationship with a national bank to preempt state usury limits. Relatedly, the Senate Banking Committee is considering a separate measure, S. 1642.

    The same day, in a separate bipartisan vote of 271-145, the House approved H.R. 3978, the “TRID Improvement Act of 2017,” which would amend the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA) to modify disclosure requirements applicable to mortgage loan transactions. Specifically, the bill states that “disclosed charges for any title insurance premium shall be equal to the amount charged for each individual title insurance policy, subject to any discounts as required by either state regulation or the title company rate filings.”

    Finally, last week on February 8, the House voted 280-131 to pass H.R. 1153, the “Mortgage Choice Act of 2017,” to adjust definitions of points and fees in connection with mortgage transactions under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Specifically, the bill states that “neither escrow charges for insurance nor affiliated title charges shall be considered ‘points and fees’ for purposes of determining whether a mortgage is a ‘high-cost mortgage.’” On February 12, the bill was received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation U.S. House Usury Lending RESPA TILA Mortgages Disclosures Madden

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  • House Financial Services Subcommittee conducts hearing on fintech opportunities and challenges

    Fintech

    On January 30, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit held a hearing entitled “Examining Opportunities and Challenges in the Financial Technology (“Fintech”) Marketplace.” The Subcommittee issued a press release following the hearing and presented the following key takeaways:

    • “Modern developments in digital technology are changing the way in which many financial services are offered and delivered”; and
    • “Congress and the federal prudential regulators must continue to examine this innovative marketplace to understand the opportunities and challenges it presents, and to ensure that financial services entities are allowed to use fintech to deliver new products and services while also protecting consumers.”

    Opening statements were presented by several members of the Subcommittee, including Subcommittee Vice Chair Keith Rothfus, R-PA, who noted that online lending, mobile banking, and other products could bring capital back to areas deserted by traditional banks. Subcommittee Chairman Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-MO, highlighted that loan originations passed through marketplace lenders accounted for nearly $40 billion over the past ten years, with online lenders often able to offer better lending terms. Luetkemeyer also discussed the rise of mobile banking and lending and raised the question presented by some states of whether fintech companies should be required to comply with current laws that apply to similar products. He stressed that understanding fintech’s capabilities “can better create an environment that fosters certainty and responsible innovation while maintaining consumer protections.” A broad range of topics were discussed at the hearing, including the following highlights:

    • Madden v. Midland / True Lender. Companies that have chosen to partner with banks have also run into regulatory and legal roadblocks, including the recent decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, which determined that a nonbank entity taking assignment of debts originated by a national bank is not entitled to protection under the National Bank Act from state-law usury claims. (See Buckley Sandler Special Alert here.) In prepared remarks, Andrew Smith, Partner at Covington and Burling, LLP, stated that because of varying outcomes in true lender court challenges, the lack of certainty means that “market participants will no longer be willing to enter into these types of transactions, thereby depriving consumers, banks, and the economy of the many benefits of bank partnerships with fintech providers while also hampering the liquidity necessary to support a robust lending market.” Smith went on to discuss H.R. 4439, the Modernizing Credit Opportunities Act, which was introduced to “reconfirm and reinforce existing federal law with respect to a bank’s identity as the true lender of a loan with the assistance of a third-party service provider.” Smith emphasized that the legislation would “resolve any uncertainty about a bank’s ability to use third-party service providers by confirming the principle that when a bank enters into a loan agreement, it is the bank that has made the loan.”
    • Marketplace Lending. During his testimony, witness Nathaniel Hoopes, Executive Director at the Marketplace Lending Association, highlighted the role marketplace lending platforms (MPPs) have had in delivering products to underserved consumers, but emphasized that a lot of work still needs to happen for more of the “broad American ‘middle class’ to fully realize and benefit from the potential of MPPs specifically and fintech more broadly.” He also expressed support for the Special Purpose National Bank charter currently under consideration by the OCC.
    • Regulatory Sandboxes. Witness Brian Knight, Director of the Program on Financial Regulation and Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, suggested in his prepared remarks various methods to improve the current regulatory environment, and opined that lawmakers could allow firms that participate in a regulatory sandbox program and comply with its requirements to avoid liability as long as the firm makes “customers whole if the firm causes harm owing to a violation of the law.” Knight added that states could be allowed to grant special non-depository charters similar to those offered by the OCC. And while witness Professor Adam J. Levitin of the Georgetown University Law Center agreed that sandboxes would allow companies to explore new ideas with the understanding that customers must be protected, he cautioned that the fragmentation of the regulatory system around fintech makes it hard for experimentation, and that risk would need to be regulated.
    • Virtual Currencies. Knight discussed his concerns with initial coin offerings (ICOs) and commented that while ICOs “may enable firms to access capital more effectively than traditional methods, there are significant concerns that they are being used by both outright frauds and well-meaning but ignorant firms to obtain capital in contravention of existing laws governing the sales of securities, commodities futures contracts, and products and services.” However, Knight testified that despite the potential for risk, peer-to-peer payments, cryptocurrencies, and other innovations demonstrate potential, and that innovative lenders are replacing banks in communities where it is no longer profitable for those banks to serve.

    Inconsistent Regulations. During his testimony, witness Brian Peters, Executive Director at Financial Innovation Now, advocated for improved coordination among regulators and stressed that the “current structure is needlessly fragmented and inconsistent among federal regulators, and varies widely across state jurisdictions.” Peters also commented on the need to modernize the regulatory structure to keep pace with innovation and meet consumers’ needs.

    Fintech House Financial Services Committee Marketplace Lending True Lender Virtual Currency Bank Regulatory Usury Third-Party Madden

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  • House Financial Services Committee Passes Bill That Would Pre-empt State Usury Laws

    Federal Issues

    On November 15, the House Financial Services Committee (Committee) announced the passage of H.R. 3299, “Protecting Consumers Access to Credit Act of 2017,” which would amend the “Revised Statues and the Federal Deposit Insurance Act” to explain that bank loans that were valid as to their maximum rate of interest in accordance with federal law at the time the loan was made shall remain valid with respect to that rate, regardless of whether the bank subsequently sells or assigns the loan to a third party. This would have the effect of preempting contrary state usury laws and effectively overturn the 2015 decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC.

    The bill passed Committee 42-17.

    InfoBytes previously covered the bill’s introduction and also, a similar measure introduced in the Senate.

    Federal Issues House Financial Services Committee Usury Lending Federal Legislation Madden

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  • OCC Acting Comptroller Shares Thoughts on Agency’s Innovation Efforts

    Fintech

    On September 25, OCC Acting Comptroller of the Currency Keith Noreika spoke before the 2017 Online Lending Policy Summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways the maturing banking industry can respond to changing market conditions through the adoption of new business models and adjustments to long-term strategies. “Some pundits see the growth of the online lending industry as a response to the nation’s banking industry. And some say that if the industry had been sufficiently agile and fully met the need for lending, alternative lenders would not have grown so rapidly,” Noreika stated. “I do not share that view. I see the growth of online lending and marketplace lenders as the natural evolution of banking itself.”

    According to Noreika, about $40 billion in consumer and small business loans in the United States have been originated by marketplace lenders during the past decade, and since 2010, online lending has doubled each year. In fact, Noreika noted, “some analysts suggest that the market will reach nearly $300 billion by 2020, and others suggest as much as $1 trillion by 2025.” However, the online industry faces certain challenges and “adapting to new market conditions and effectively managing evolving risks” is pertinent to their success. Noreika highlighted recent innovation efforts by the OCC, such as the agency’s Office of Innovation’s “Office Hours,” which was created to facilitate discussions related to fintech and financial innovation. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.) Another example is the OCC’s plan to develop “regulatory sandboxes” and bank pilot programs to “foster responsible innovation by OCC-supervised banks” as a means to expand the OCC’s own knowledge in this space. Importantly, Noreika addressed the OCC’s position concerning chartering of fintech companies that seek to expand into banking, along with the possibility of “offering special-purpose national bank charters to nondepository fintech companies engaged in the business of banking”—a concept currently being contested by both the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). According to Noreika, the OCC has not yet decided whether it will exercise its authority to issue special purpose bank charters. (See previous InfoBytes coverage of CSBS’ and NYDFS’ challenges here and here.)

    Finally, Noreika offered support for a legislative approach that would clarify the “valid when made” doctrine central to Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC by reducing uncertainty in establishing that “the rate of interest on a loan made by a bank, savings association, or credit union that is valid when the loan is made remains valid after transfer of the loan” and serving to reestablish a legal precedent that had been in place prior to the Madden decision, in which an appellate panel held that a nonbank entity taking assignment of debts originated by a national bank is not entitled to protection under the National Bank Act from state law usury claims. (See previous InfoBytes coverage here.)

    Fintech Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Online Lending Department of Treasury Marketplace Lending Usury National Bank Act Madden

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  • Senators Introduce Legislation to Override Second Circuit’s Decision in Madden v. Midland

    Federal Issues

    On July 27, a bipartisan group of senators introduced draft legislation (S. 1642), which would require bank loans, sold or transferred to another party, to maintain the same interest rate. As previously covered in InfoBytes, similar legislation (H.R. 3299) was introduced in the House earlier in July to reestablish a “legal precedent under federal banking laws that preempts a loan’s interest as valid when made.” Both measures come as a reaction to the 2015 Second Circuit decision in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, in which an appellate panel held that a nonbank entity taking assignment of debts originated by a national bank is not entitled to protection under the National Bank Act from state-law usury claims. The draft legislation seeks to amend the Revised Statutes, the Home Owners’ Loan Act, the Federal Credit Union Act, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation Usury Lending Second Circuit Litigation National Bank Act Madden

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  • Legislation Introduced to Codify “Valid When Made” Doctrine

    Federal Issues

    On July 19, Representative Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Representative Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation designed to make it unlawful to change the rate of interest on certain loans after they have been sold or transferred to another party. As set forth in a July 19 press release issued by Rep. McHenry’s office, the Protecting Consumers’ Access to Credit Act of 2017 (H.R. 3299) would reaffirm the “legal precedent under federal banking laws that preempts a loan’s interest as valid when made.”

    Notably,  a Second Circuit panel in 2015 in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC overturned a district court’s holding that the National Bank Act (NBA) preempted state law usury claims against purchasers of debt from national banks. (See Special Alert on Second Circuit decision here.)The appellate court held that state usury laws are not preempted after a national bank has transferred the loan to another party. The Supreme Court denied a petition for certiorari last year. According to Rep. McHenry, “[t]his reading of the National Bank Act was unprecedented and has created uncertainty for fintech companies, financial institutions, and the credit markets.” H.R. 3299, however, will attempt to “restore[] consistency” to lending laws following the holding and “increase[] stability in our capital markets which have been upended by the Second Circuit’s unprecedented interpretation of our banking laws.”

    Federal Issues Federal Legislation Fintech Lending Second Circuit Appellate Usury National Bank Act Madden

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  • Special Alert: Madden Class Action Moves Forward

    Courts

    On February 27, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a ruling in Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC,[1] holding that New York’s fundamental public policy against usury overrides a Delaware choice-of-law clause in the plaintiff’s credit card agreement.  The court allowed the plaintiff to proceed with Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) claims (and related state unfair or deceptive acts or practices claims) against the defendants, a debt buyer that had purchased the plaintiff’s charged-off credit card debt and its affiliated debt collector.  The court did not allow plaintiff’s claims for violations of New York’s usury law to proceed, as it held that New York’s civil usury statute does not apply to defaulted debts and that the plaintiff cannot directly enforce the criminal usury statute.  The court also granted the plaintiff’s motion for class certification.


    [1] No. 11-CV-8149, 2017 WL 758518 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 27, 2017).


    Click here to read full special alert

    * * *

    If you have questions about the ruling or other related issues, visit our Class Actions practice for more information, or contact a Buckley Sandler attorney with whom you have worked in the past.

    Courts Usury FDCPA Debt Collection Class Action Special Alerts Madden

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  • District Court Advances Securitization Case Involving N.Y. State Usury Law

    Courts

    On February 27, a U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y. issued an Order ruling on motions for summary judgment and class certification in a consumer class-action against a debt collection company that purchased defaulted consumer debt from a national bank, and its affiliate, which sought collection of debt charged at a rate in excess of New York state usury limits. Midland Funding v. Madden, [Opinion & Order] No. 11-CV-8149 (CS) (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 1, 2017).

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the district court had originally ruled in Defendants’ favor, holding that the National Banking Act (NBA) preempted state law usury claims against purchasers of debt from national banks. The Second Circuit, however, overturned that ruling in a May 2015 opinion to the extent it relied on the NBA, but remanded the case for a determination whether Delaware choice of law provisions in the credit agreement precluded the Plaintiff’s claims because the rates were not usurious in Delaware.

    Now, revising the issue on remand, the District Court held that New York’s criminal usury cap (but not the civil usury) applies to Plaintiff’s defaulted debt, notwithstanding the Delaware choice of law provision. The Court reasoned that New York does not follow the “rule of validation” (calling for courts to assume the parties intended to enter into a valid contract and apply the law of the state whose usury law would sustain it). The Court concluded, therefore, that the Plaintiff could predicate her FDCPA claims on a violation of New York’s criminal usury cap. Based on the foregoing, the Court granted partial summary judgment for the Defendant. The court also granted, but modified, Plaintiff’s request for class certification.

    Courts Consumer Finance Debt Collection Class Action FDCPA National Bank Act Usury Madden

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  • SCOTUS Denies Petition for Certiorari in Securitization Case Involving State Usury Law

    Consumer Finance

    On June 27, the United State Supreme Court denied a debt buyer’s petition for certiorari in a Second Circuit case that raises the issue of whether New York’s state usury law is preempted by the National Bank Act (NBA) when a national bank-originated debt is purchased by a nonbank. Midland v. Madden, No. 15-610 (U.S. June 27, 2017). As previously covered in InfoBytes, the nonbank debt buyer was assigned debt owed by a New York consumer. The debt carried an interest rate in excess of that permitted by New York law but which was permitted by the law of the bank’s home state, which the bank lawfully “exported.” Facing a usury challenge, the debt buyer argued that it was able to continue charging the valid rate made by the national bank and that it did not have to abide by the consumer debtor’s state usury laws. The Second Circuit rejected the debt buyer’s argument, reasoning that the NBA did not apply to the debt buyer because it was not acting on the national bank’s behalf. The Supreme Court did not grant the debt buyer’s petition for certiorari, leaving the Second Circuit ruling in effect. Notably, at the request of the Supreme Court, the Solicitor General and the OCC filed a brief stating the position of the United States as to whether the Supreme Court should grant the petition for certiorari. Although the brief advised that the Court not grant certiorari, the Government’s brief sharply criticized the Second Circuit’s decision.

    U.S. Supreme Court OCC National Bank Act Debt Buying Usury Madden

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  • Federal Court in New York Dismisses State-Law Claims Against National Bank and Service Provider on Preemption Grounds

    Consumer Finance

    On March 9, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York upheld the preemption of state-law claims brought against a national bank and its non-bank servicer provider. Edwards v. Macy’s Inc., No. 14-cv-8616 (S.D.N.Y. March 9, 2016). The plaintiff alleged that, without her consent, she had been enrolled in and charged for a payment-protection program in connection with her private-label, department store credit card. She sued the issuing bank – a national bank based in South Dakota – and the department store, asserting (among other things) that both had violated the South Dakota Consumer Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The court held that the plaintiff’s claims were preempted by the National Bank Act and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regulations.

    The court held that the plaintiff’s state law claims against the bank were expressly preempted by OCC regulations, which provide that “[n]ational banks’ debt cancellation contracts and debt suspension agreements are governed by this part and applicable Federal law and regulations, and not by State law.” Opinion at 7 (citing 12 C.F.R. § 37.1). In addition, the court held that the state law claims were impliedly preempted because the OCC regulations are “sufficiently comprehensive as to crowd out state law,” and requiring the bank “to comply with state law that reaches the same subject matter would impermissibly ‘prevent or significantly interfere with the national bank’s exercise of its powers.’” Id. at 9 (citing Barnett Bank, N.A. v. Nelson, 517 U.S. 33 (1996)).

    Significantly, the court held that claims brought against the non-bank department store also were preempted. The court agreed with the plaintiff that the Second Circuit’s recent holding in Madden v. Midland Funding means that “OCC preemption extends to an entity that is not a national bank only where that entity is an agent or subsidiary of a national bank or is otherwise acting on behalf of the national bank in carrying out the bank’s business.” Id. at 13 (citing Madden v. Midland Funding, LLC, 786 F.3d 246, 249 (2d Cir. 2015)). However, it held that the plaintiff’s complaint clearly alleged that the department store did act on behalf of the bank in carrying out the bank’s powers. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the department store provided marketing services, credit processing, collections, and customer service to the bank with respect to the private-label credit cards and ancillary products such as the payment protection program. The court therefore concluded that “[t]he federal preemption that cloaks [the bank] extends to [the department store] in connection with the activities in suit,” and it dismissed the complaint. Id. at 14.

    It should be noted that the opinion is silent on the Dodd-Frank Act’s express rejection of federal preemption for agents (and subsidiaries) of national banks. In its preemption analysis, the court stated that it was unclear whether “Dodd–Frank even applies to Plaintiff’s claims, because Dodd–Frank’s preemption amendments regarding national banks did not go into effect until July 21, 2011, months after Plaintiff enrolled in Payment Protection.” Id. at 8. As such, the case can be viewed (and distinguished by other courts) as applying pre-Dodd-Frank Act preemption standards in analyzing the specific question of whether federal preemption extends to non-banks that provide services to banks in connection with loans or other extensions of credit.

    SDNY Madden

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