Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On May 24, CFPB announced the opening of the Office of Competition and Innovation, as part of its new approach to increase competition amongst consumer financial service companies by identifying barriers to entry for new market participants and making it easier for consumers to switch financial providers.  The new office will replace the Office of Innovation, which promoted a narrower, application-based approach by issuing No Action Letters and Sandboxes to individual companies on specific product offerings.
Continue Reading CFPB Announces Opening of New Office of Competition and Innovation

In March, U.S. Department of Treasury issued its annual General Explanations of the Administration’s Revenue Proposals, commonly known as the “Green Book.”  Among other revenue proposals, the Treasury addressed the treatment of on-demand pay arrangements or earned wage access (EWA) programs, which have risen in popularity in recent years (previously discussed in our Labor and Employment Blog).  EWA programs generally allow employees to access accrued wages before the end of their regular pay cycle.
Continue Reading Treasury Department Proposes Non-Loan Status for Earned Wage Access

On April 25, the CFPB announced that it is using its “dormant authority” in order to conduct examinations of nonbanks posing risks to consumers.  The Bureau has direct supervisory authority over banks and credit unions, certain nonbanks, in addition to large depository institutions with more than $10 billion in assets, and their service providers.  With this announcement, the CFPB intends invoke its authority under the Dodd-Frank Act to examine nonbanks “whose activities the CFPB has reasonable cause to determine pose risks to consumers. This authority is not specific to any particular consumer financial product or service.”
Continue Reading FinTechs in Crosshairs as CFPB Invokes Dormant Authority to Examine Nonbanks

A few months ago, we published a post about the OCC, FDIC, and Federal Reserve Board’s final rule to improve information sharing about cyber incidents that may affect the U.S. banking system. Under the final rule, banks and their service providers must notify their primary federal regulators within 36 hours after a notification incident has occurred. In the latest update from the regulators, they remind banks that starting May 1, banks must notify their primary federal regulators about computer-security incidents. Below is the contact information and the process for contacting each regulator:

Continue Reading May 1st is Around the Corner: Bank Computer-Security Incident Notification Requirements

On March 22, the CFPB issued Compliance Bulletin 2022-05 regarding potentially illegal practices related to consumer reviews.  The guidance states that consumer reviews impact company revenue and help consumers choose between financial providers, which can in turn “incentivize dishonest market participants to attempt to manipulate the review process, rather than compete based on the value of their services, which can frustrate a competitive marketplace.”
Continue Reading CFPB Flexes UDAAP Muscle Over Contractual “Gag” Clauses and Fake Consumer Reviews

In a significant move, the CFPB announced on March 16 a revision to its supervisory operations to address discrimination outside of the traditional fair lending context, with future plans to scrutinize discriminatory conduct that violates the federal prohibition against “unfair” practices in such areas as advertising, pricing, and other areas to ensure that companies are appropriately testing for and eliminating illegal discrimination.  Specifically, the CFPB updated its Exam Manual for Unfair, Deceptive, or Abusive Acts or Practices (UDAAPs) noting that discrimination may meet the criteria for “unfairness” by causing substantial harm to consumers that they cannot reasonably avoid.
Continue Reading Regulation by Definition: CFPB Broadens Definition of “Unfairness” to Rein in Discrimination

On February 23, the CFPB outlined a proposal for upcoming joint rulemaking to prevent algorithmic bias in automated home valuation models (AVMs).  Here, the CFPB is specifically focused on the potential for AVMs to pose fair lending risks to homebuyers and homeowners.  The CFPB issued the outline pursuant to a requirement under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act that includes “collecting small entities’ advice and recommendations on the potential impacts of the proposals under consideration and feedback on regulatory alternatives to minimize these impacts.”
Continue Reading CFPB Seeks to Prevent Algorithmic Bias in Automated Home Valuation Models

Last month, the FTC issued an advisory opinion clarifying that the Holder Rule does not preempt any state laws that put more liability on banks that are the “holders” of a loan contract, and in particular, the rule does not limit recovery of attorneys’ fees and costs when state law authorizes awards against a holder (we previously discussed the advisory opinion in an earlier Consumer Finance & FinTech Blog post here).
Continue Reading Auto Finance Companies May Face Risk From Holder Rule, Pending California Supreme Court Case

On February 8, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing titled, “Digital Assets and the Future of Finance: The President’s Working Group on Financial Markets” to consider legislative recommendations from the President’s Working Group (PWG) report on stablecoins (we previously discussed the report in an earlier Consumer Finance & FinTech Blog post here).   
Continue Reading House Financial Services Committee Focuses on PWG Stablecoin Report

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has continued to ratchet up its regulatory scrutiny over the consumer financial services market.  On January 26, 2022, the CFPB published an initiative seeking public input on so-called “junk fees” in consumer financial services.  According to the CFPB, “junk fees” occur where: (i) fees are charged for things consumers believed were covered by the baseline price of a product or service; (ii) fees are unexpected; (iii) the expense of the fee is greatly disproportionate to the cost of the service; or (iv) it is unclear why a fee was charged.  The CFPB contends that “junk fees” are detrimental to the market for financial services because they “obscure the true price” of a service by, for example, offering attractive introductory pricing, but then make up the difference by levying various back-end fees on consumers.
Continue Reading Consumer Fees Find Themselves in the Crosshairs: The CFPB Seeks Public Input on Alleged “Junk Fees” in the Consumer Financial Services Industry