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  • OCC Acting Comptroller Supports Fintech National Bank Charter

    FinTech

    On July 19, Acting Comptroller of the Currency, Keith A. Noreika, spoke before the Exchequer Club about the proposed concept of granting special purpose charters for financial technology (fintech) companies. In prepared remarks, Acting Comptroller Noreika said the OCC has the authority to grant national bank charters to nondepository fintech companies in “appropriate circumstances.” However, he reiterated that having the authority does not imply a determination has been made as to whether the OCC will accept or grant applications from nondepository fintech companies that rely solely on regulation 12 CFR 5.20(e)(1), which outlines eligibility requirements for receiving special purpose national bank charters. To date, no such applications have been received.

    The OCC continues to demonstrate its support for innovative developments and partnerships between banking and technology companies. As previously discussed in a Special Alert, the OCC issued a draft supplement in March to provide guidance for evaluating charter applications from fintech companies. “Providing a path for these companies to become national banks is pro-growth and in some ways can reduce regulatory burden for those companies,” Noreika remarked. However, the fintech special purpose national bank charter has recently met legal challenges from the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (see Special Alerts here and here). Norieka stated that the OCC is developing its response to the NYDFS lawsuit “and plans to defend [its] authority vigorously.” He cautioned against defining banking too narrowly, and argued that fintech companies should be allowed to apply for national bank charters if they meet the criteria and are involved in the “business of banking.”

    Fintech OCC Licensing Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • OCC Issues Branch Closings Booklet, General Policies and Procedures Booklet

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On June 29, the OCC issued Bulletin OCC 2017-24, announcing its revised Comptroller’s Licensing Manual booklet, “Branch Closings,” replacing the booklet issued in April 2003. According to the Bulletin, the revised booklet describes the 90-day advance notice to the OCC and branch customers that a bank must observe before closing a branch. It also explains the specific timing, procedures, and forms of notice the bank must supply. The booklet, which applies to all national banks and federal savings associations, summarizes the different notice requirements for each under Section 42 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act. It also lists steps for filing branch closing notices including: (i) sending advance notice to the OCC at least 90 days before closing; (ii) mailing notices to customers at least 90 days in advance; (iii) posting conspicuous notices at the branch at least 30 days in advance; and (iv) sending final closing notice to the OCC after the branch closes.

    The notice requirement of Section 42 assists the OCC in assessing a bank’s record of opening and closing branches. The OCC reviews this record in examinations for compliance with Section 42 and in assessing performance under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The OCC, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) adopted a “Joint Policy Statement on Branch Closing Notices and Policies” (Joint Policy Statement) in June 1991 to provide guidance regarding the requirements of the branch closing statute.

    On July 5, the OCC issued an additional bulletin, OCC Bulletin 2017-25, revising the “General Policies and Procedures” booklet of the Comptroller’s Licensing Manual issued in March 2008. This booklet explains how to file applications or notices with the OCC, requirements of the filings, and the OCC processes for licensing filings. The revised booklet applies to national banks, federal savings associations, and other entities that are involved in certain transactions including: (i) organizing a new bank; (ii) opening or closing a branch; (iii) establishing subsidiaries; (iv) some changes to capital or debt; and (v) certain other transactions. The booklet describes important policies and includes sample forms, filing requirements, and fees. It also covers the OCC’s review, approval or denial, and subsequent consummation requirements and appeal procedures.

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Banking Licensing

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  • Texas Passes Law Repealing Vehicle Protection Product Regulatory Act

    State Issues

    On June 15, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed SB 2065. The law modifies a number of motor vehicle-related regulations and licensing requirements. Specifically, the law:

    • eliminates the Vehicle Protection Product Act;
    • abolishes the Vehicle Protection Product Warrantor Advisory Board;
    • requires the warrantor of a vehicle protection product to pay expenses to the person who purchases the product or system if loss or damage occurs due to failure of the product or system;
    • prohibits a retail seller from requiring a vehicle buyer—“as a condition of a retail installment transaction or the cash sale of a commercial vehicle”—to buy a vehicle protection product that is not installed on the vehicle at the time of the transaction, classifying this violation as a “false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice” actionable under the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act; and
    • eliminates the licensing requirements for boot operators and boot companies, but requires a booting company to remove a boot within an hour of being contacted by the owner or forfeit all removal fees.

    The law takes effect September 1.

    State Issues Auto Financing State Legislation Consumer Finance Lending Consumer Lending Licensing

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  • South Carolina Governor Amends Mortgage Lender, Broker Licensing Requirements

    State Issues

    On May 19, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into law amendments (S 366) to the state’s Mortgage Lending Act, Mortgage Broker Act, and related laws to revise a variety of mortgage lending definitions, licensing procedures and requirements, and disclosure obligations. The legislation also adds license requirements for mortgage lenders who act as mortgage brokers on the majority of their mortgage loans. The amendments take effect September 16, 2017.

    State Issues Mortgage Lenders Licensing State Legislation

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  • NYDFS Files Independent Lawsuit Against OCC Fintech Charter

    FinTech

    Following the April 26 lawsuit filed by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) opposing the OCC’s fintech charter (see previous InfoBytes post), the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) filed its own lawsuit on May 12, asking the court to block the OCC from creating a new special purpose fintech charter. “The OCC’s charter decision is lawless, ill-conceived, and destabilizing of financial markets that are properly and most effectively regulated by New York and other state regulators,” NYDFS Superintendent Maria T. Vullo said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “This charter puts New York financial consumers . . . at great risk of exploitation by newly federally chartered entities seeking to be insulated from New York’s strong consumer protections.” NYDFS’s complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the OCC’s charter would include “vast preemptive powers over state law.” Specific concerns include the risk of (i) weakened regulatory controls on usury, payday loans, and other predatory lending practices; (ii) consolidation of multiple non-depository business lines under a single federal charter, thus creating more “too big to fail” institutions; and (iii) creating competitive advantages for large, well-capitalized fintech firms that could overwhelm smaller market players and thus restrict innovation in financial products and services. The complaint also asserts that the “OCC’s action is legally indefensible because it grossly exceeds the agency’s statutory authority.” Finally, the complaint claims that the proposed fintech charter would injure NYDFS monetarily because the regulator’s operating expenses are funded by assessments levied by the OCC on New York licensed financial institutions. According to NYDFS, every non-depository financial firm that receives a special purpose fintech charter from the OCC in place of a New York license deprives NYDFS of crucial resources that are necessary to fund its regulatory function.

    Citing violations of the National Bank Act and conflicts with state law in violation of the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, NYDFS seeks declaratory and injunctive relief that would declare the fintech charter proposal to be unlawful and prohibit the OCC from taking further steps toward creating or issuing the charter without express Congressional authority.

    In a press release issued the same day, the CSBS said it “strongly supports the [NYDFS] lawsuit” and reiterated that the OCC “does not have the authority to issue federal charters to non-banks, and its unlawful attempt to do so will harm markets, innovation and consumers.”

    Fintech OCC NYDFS CSBS Licensing Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

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  • OCC Issues Revised Comptroller’s Licensing Manual Booklets

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

    On May 8, the OCC announced the release of a revised Fiduciary Powers booklet of the Comptroller’s Licensing Manual, which replaces the version issued in June 2002, and applies to all national banks and federal savings associations proposing to exercise fiduciary powers. This revised booklet incorporates updated procedures and requirements following the integration of the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) into the OCC in 2011 and the revisions to 12 C.F.R. § 5 (effective July 1, 2015), which address applications for national banks and federal savings associations proposing to exercise fiduciary powers. Specifically, the revised booklet addresses the: (i) policies and procedures to guide a bank in submitting a request to exercise fiduciary powers or submitting a notice to the OCC that it is exercising fiduciary powers in a new state; and (ii) procedures for a bank to surrender its fiduciary powers and for the OCC to revoke those powers. The booklet also lists references and links to informational resources to assist applicants during the filing process.

    That same day, the OCC also released a revised Public Notice and Comments booklet of the Comptroller’s Licensing Manual, which replaces the version updated in March 2007. This revised booklet incorporates public notice and comments procedures and requirements that were updated following the integration of OTS into the OCC, and the issuance of revised 12 CFR Part 5, and applies to national banks and federal savings associations, unless otherwise noted, as well as federal branches and agencies of foreign banks. In particular, the booklet addresses the “general requirements related to the public notice process, impact of Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) performance on certain applications or notices (filings), application of the convenience and needs standard under the Bank Merger Act, and requirements and procedures for conducting public hearings, public meetings, and private meetings.”

    Agency Rule-Making & Guidance OCC Licensing

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  • Conference of State Bank Supervisors Announce Initiatives to Obviate Need for Fintech Charter, New York Joins Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System for Fintechs

    FinTech

    On May 10, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced a “series of initiatives to modernize state regulation of non-banks, including financial technology [fintech] firms.” The raft of initiatives, branded “Vision 2020,” appear to be generally geared towards streamlining the state regulatory system so that it is capable of supporting business innovation, while still protecting  the rights of consumers. As explained by CSBS Chairman and Texas Commissioner of Banking Charles G. Cooper, the CSBS is “committed to a multi-state experience that is as seamless as possible,” and, to this end, “state regulators will transform the licensing process, harmonize supervision [and] engage fintech companies.”

    The initial set of actions that CSBS and state regulators are taking includes the following: 

    • Redesign the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS). CSBS plans to redesign the NMLS, which is a web-based system that allows non-depository companies, branches, and individuals in the mortgage, consumer lending, money services businesses, and debt collection industries to apply for, amend, update, or renew a license online. In particular, the CSBS’s redesign will “provide a more automated licensing process for new applicants, streamline multi-state regulation, and shift state resources to higher-risk cases.”
    • Harmonize multi-state supervision. CSBS has created “working groups to establish model approaches to key aspects of non-bank supervision,” to “enhance uniformity in examinations, facilitate best practices,” and “capture and report non-bank violations at the national level.” CSBS also intends to “create a common technology platform for state examinations.”
    • Form an industry advisory panelCSBS will “establish a fintech industry advisory panel to identify points of friction in licensing and multi-state regulation, and provide feedback to state efforts to modernize regulatory regimes.”
    • Assist state banking departments. CSBS intends to start “education programs” that “will make state departments more effective in supervising banks and non-banks.”
    • Make it easier for banks to provide services to non-banksCSBS is also “stepping up efforts to address de-risking—where banks are cautious about doing business with non-banks, due to regulatory uncertainty – by increasing industry awareness that strong regulatory regimes exist for compliance with laws for money laundering, the Bank Secrecy Act, and cybersecurity.”
    • Make supervision more efficient for third parties. CSBS also intends to “support[] federal legislation that would allow state and federal regulators to better coordinate supervision of bank third-party service providers.”

    By harmonizing the supervision and licensing system and working more closely together, state regulators appear to want to eliminate a key reason to seek the OCC charter, namely the ability to deal with one federal agency and follow a single set of rules. As previously covered in InfoBytes, the CSBS and a number of individual stakeholders have fiercely opposed the OCC’s other main fintech initiative—the development of a special purpose national bank charter for payments processors, online lenders and other new entrants in the financial industry. CSBS sued the OCC last month, arguing it lacked the legal power to move forward. The overall initiative appears to be a response to the OCC’s own “responsible innovation” efforts, which—as previously covered in InfoBytes—culminated in the creation of a new office last year to correspond with fintechs and the banks interested in partnering with them.

    Concurrent with CSBS’s Vision 2020 initiatives, on May 11, the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) announced that beginning July 1, 2017, it will transition to the NMLS to manage the license application and ongoing regulation of all nondepository financial institutions conducting business in the state, commencing with money transmitters. Specifically, on July 1, 2017, financial services companies holding New York money transmitter licenses will have the opportunity to transition those licenses to NMLS, and companies applying for new licenses will be able to apply through NMLS. As previously covered in InfoBytes, NMLS—a secure, web-based licensing system—will allow for easier on-line licensing renewal and enable NYDFS to “provide better supervision of the money transmitter industry by linking with other states to protect consumers.” Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo stressed that “[b]y working with the CSBS, which is leading the modernization of state regulation through Vision 2020, DFS is supporting the strong nationwide regulatory framework created by states to provide improved licensing and supervision by State regulators.”

    Additional information about NMLS can be accessed through the NMLS Resource Center.

    Fintech Licensing NYDFS NMLS Agency Rule-Making & Guidance CSBS OCC

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  • Vermont Enacts Law Expanding Requirements for Certain Businesses Regulated by Department of Financial Regulation

    State Issues

    On May 4, Vermont Governor Phil Scott signed into law H. 182, which amends a number of laws relating to businesses regulated by the state’s Department of Financial Regulation. Among other things, the law: (i) amends registration requirements for consumer litigation funding companies; (ii) amends the licensing requirements for licensed lenders, money transmitters, check cashers and currency exchangers, debt adjusters, and loan servicers; (iii) amends the mortgage loan originator prelicensing and relicensing education requirements; (iv) defines the term “virtual currency” under the Money Services chapter and provides that “virtual currency” is a permissible investment for licensees; and (v) sets forth requirements for money transmitters related to receipts and refunds. The law also creates new types of licenses (and other related requirements (e.g., disclosures, record retention)) for “loan solicitation” activity, which includes, among other things, lead generation. The law took effect May 4, 2017, with the exception of provisions relating to money transmitter receipts and refunds, lead generator disclosure requirements, and loan solicitor disclosure requirements, which take effect July 1, 2017.

    State Issues Licensing Virtual Currency

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  • Maryland and Tennessee Expand Use of Reporting Requirements for Money Services Businesses

    State Issues

    As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Nationwide Licensing System (NMLS) for Money Services Businesses (MSBs) recently unveiled the MSB Call Report that standardizes and streamlines routine reporting requirements for state-licensed MSBs. On April 18, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed into law HB 182, which requires specified licensees to obtain and maintain a valid unique identifier and transfer licensing information to the NMLS. The law will go into effect July 1, 2017. Among those who must now register with NMLS are check cashers, collection agencies, consumer lenders, debt management service providers, credit service businesses, and sales finance companies. Licenses for mortgage lenders, mortgage originators, and money transmitters are already processed through NMLS. The Commissioner of Financial Regulation is charged with establishing a time period that is “not less 2 months within which a licensee must transfer licensing information to the NMLS.” Furthermore, at least 30 days before the transfer period begins, the Commissioner shall notify all licensees of the transfer period and provide instructions for the transfer of licensing information to NMLS.

    On April 12, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam enacted SB 1202, authorizing Tennessee’s Department of Financial Institutions to license industrial loan and thrift companies, title lenders, and individuals regulated under the Check Cashing Act or the Premium Finance Company Act through a multi-state automated licensing system. The law allows for the sharing of information—subject to specified confidentiality requirements—with state and federal regulatory officials having consumer finance industry oversight authority or finance industry oversight. Licenses for these types of entities will expire on December 31 of each year. The law includes staged effective dates, the first being July 1, 2017.

    State Issues Consumer Finance Lending NMLS Mortgage Origination Licensing

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  • Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System Unveils New Money Services Businesses Call Report

    State Issues

    On April 1, the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System (NMLS) Money Services Businesses (MSB) unveiled “the first comprehensive report to consolidate state MSB reporting requirements and provide a database of nationwide MSB transaction activity.” It also allows licensees to report directly in NMLS  for all states on a quarterly and annual basis. The release of the MSB Call Report culminates “a multi-year effort by state regulators to develop a tool to standardize and streamline routine reporting requirements for state-licensed Money Services Businesses”—including money transmitters, check cashers, and prepaid card issuers. The MSB Call Report contains three sections: (i) “company financial information”; (ii) “information about the licensee’s company and state level transactional activity”; (iii) “company permissible investments information”; (iv) “and transaction destination country information.” According to the MSB Call Report webpage, 18 state agencies will adopt the MSB Call Report for Q1 2017 reporting.

    NMLS is the system of record for non-depository, financial services licensing or registration in participating state, territory and local agencies. Although NMLS does not grant or deny license authority, it does—in participating jurisdictions—serve as the official system for companies and individuals seeking to apply for, amend, renew and surrender licenses. NMLS is also the sole system of licensure for mortgage companies and the system of record for the registration of depositories, subsidiaries of depositories, and Mortgage Loan Originators (MLOs) under the CFPB’s Regulation G (S.A.F.E. Mortgage Licensing Act—Federal Registration of Residential Mortgage Loan Originators).

    Additional information and a list of the state agencies that have adopted the report as of March 2017 can be accessed through the NMLS Resource Center.

    State Issues Lending NMLS Call Report Mortgage Origination Licensing

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