In an apparent follow up to President Biden’s March Executive Order on Digital Assets (which we previously discussed here), this week, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a similar executive order aiming to foster responsible innovation, bolster California’s innovation economy, and strengthen consumer protection through creating a transparent regulatory and business environment for Web3 companies.  Newsom’s executive order credits Biden’s executive order as paving the way for the assessment of key issues raised by crypto-assets and sets California on a path to harmonize its nascent crypto regulatory framework with forthcoming federal rules and guidelines and, hopefully, create regulatory clarity for businesses and consumers.
Continue Reading Governor Newsom Signs Blockchain Executive Order

On April 28, Governor Newsom signed Senate Bill 577 which will, among other things, bring back the California Financing Laws (CFL) licensing exemption which permits a lender to make a single commercial loan within a 12-month period without first obtaining a license.  The previous law, which contained this exemption, had expired by its terms on December 31, 2021.  The California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation has seen an uptick in California finance lender license applications this year, and speculation is that one of the reasons for that was the loss of this exemption.  The new law takes effect immediately as an emergency statute.  The exemption does not apply to consumer loans.
Continue Reading California Reinstates Licensing Exemption for Single Commercial Loan Made During 12-month Period

On April 8, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) filed a cross-complaint against a Chicago-based FinTech company alleging that as the “true lender” of consumer installment loans, it is subject to and also violated the Californian Financing Laws (CFL) by making loans in excess of the CFL 36% rate cap and that the FinTech violated the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) by offering and collecting on loans with rates exceeding the rate cap.  The cross-complaint was filed in response to a complaint filed by the Fintech company in March to prevent the DFPI from applying California usury law to loans made through its partnership with a state-chartered bank located in Utah (we discussed this complaint in a previous blog post here).
Continue Reading California Strikes Back: Filing Cross-Complaint Alleging FinTech is “True Lender,” Seeks $100M Penalty

On March 7, a Chicago-based FinTech company  filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the Commissioner of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), Clothilde Hewlett.
Continue Reading Fintech Flips Script, Sues California Regulator Over 36% Rate Cap Law

On February 11, the California DFPI issued an opinion letter in response to an EWA provider’s request for a specific ruling from the DFPI about whether the company’s EWA solution is subject to licensure under the California Financing Laws (CFL) and California Deferred Deposit Transaction Law (CDDTL).  In response, the DFPI concluded that the provider does not originate or facilitate loans subject to the CFL or CDDTL, and that neither the provider nor its employer partners are subject to the CFL or CDDTL’s licensing requirements.
Continue Reading DFPI Approves EWA Provider

In two unrelated settlements, the California DFPI and Georgia attorney general each recently settled with rent-to-own companies. In the California settlement that was announced on January 10, the DFPI settled with a Los Angeles-based rent-to-own furniture provider for overcharging consumers late payment fees and failure to provide consumer disclosures required under the California rent-to-own law, the Karnette Rental-Purchase Act, in violation of the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL). Among other things, the company failed to:

Continue Reading California and Georgia Reach Settlement with Rent-to-Own Companies

On December 14, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced that it entered into a consent order with an LA-based auto title lender to resolve allegations that the company violated California’s the Fair Access to Credit Act’s (FACA), which prohibits making loans of $2,500 to $10,000 with interest rates greater than 36 percent.  The focus of the consent order was the auto title lender’s partnership with a Utah state-chartered bank to provide the bank with marketing and servicing services in connection with auto title loans offered to California consumers.  The company offered these services at the same time that FACA amended the California Financing Law to prohibit licensed lenders from making loans with principal amounts of $2,500 to less than $10,000 with interest rates greater than 36 percent, plus the federal funds rate.  The company was served a subpoena seeking documents and information last year to assess whether the company was evading California’s newly enacted interest rate caps through a partnership with the out-of-state bank.  After the investigation, the company ceased marketing auto loans of less than $10,000 to California borrowers.

Continue Reading DFPI Issues Consent Order to Auto Title Lender

California Governor Newsom announced the appointment of Clothilde “Cloey” Hewlett as the next Commissioner of the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI).  She will start after Thanksgiving, when she will take over for the Acting Commissioner, Christopher Shultz.  Hewlett is the current Executive Director and Chief Legal Officer for the Cal Alumni Association, and previously served as Undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency and Interim Director of the Department of General Services.  She also has extensive enforcement experience, previously serving as an Assistant District Attorney for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, Criminal Investigator with the City and County of San Francisco, and Director of Moral Character Determinations for the State Bar of California.  Ms. Hewlett’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the California Senate within one year.

Continue Reading New Commissioner Appointed to lead CA DFPI: Cloey Hewlett

Licensees and applicants under the California Financing Law are reminded of the following:

  • Licensees under the California Financing Law not currently on NMLS must transition onto NMLS by December 31, 2021.
  • New applicants under the California Financing Law may only apply through NMLS.
  • Existing licensees under the California Financing Law on NMLS must convert to an electronic surety bond through NMLS.


Continue Reading NMLS Transition for California Financing Law Licensees: December 31, 2021 Deadline