On January 4, the Colorado Attorney General announced that his office entered into assurances of discontinuance (available here and here) with two credit unions that will result in $4 million being refunded to Colorado borrowers who were entitled to refunds of guaranteed automobile protection (“GAP”) fees. These settlements follow an investigation by the Consumer Protection Section of the Colorado Department of Law, which found that the credit unions historically failed to refund unearned GAP fees owed to consumers.

Continue Reading Colorado AG Secures Latest Settlement over Unearned GAP Fees

In December, a Utah-based bank and its service provider entered into an assurance of discontinuance with the Iowa Attorney General and the Iowa Division of Banking, settling an investigation into allegedly usurious installment loans that the bank made to Iowa consumers. The Iowa AG alleges that, between March 2020 and April 2022, the bank made more than 1,600 installment loans to Iowa residents that imposed excessive finance charges in violation of state and federal law. Some of these loans, according to the Iowa AG, carried interest rates of nearly 200 percent, far in excess of the maximum allowable finance charge of 21 percent under the Iowa Consumer Credit Code and the limits established by Section 521 of the federal Depository Institutions and Deregulation Monetary Control Act.

Continue Reading Iowa AG Usury Investigation into Bank Partnership Ends in Settlement

On December 18, the Arizona Attorney General issued an opinion on earned wage access (EWA), which determined that fully non-recourse EWA products do not constitute consumer loans subject to consumer loan regulations, and correspondingly, that providers of non-recourse EWA products would not be considered consumer lenders subject to licensure under Arizona law. The opinion found that an EWA product could be identified as fully non-recourse when the provider:

Continue Reading AZ Attorney General Concludes Non-Recourse EWA Not a Loan

On September 14, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) published a notice of proposed rules under New York’s Commercial Financing Disclosure Law (CFDL) (we discussed this previous rulemaking in a blog post here). Under the CFDL, commercial finance companies are required to give consumer-style loan disclosures to potential recipients when a specific offering of finance is extended for certain commercial transactions of $2.5 million or less. We note some items in particular from the latest proposed rule:

Continue Reading New York Publishes Proposed Rules on Commercial Financing Disclosures

Recently, the Louisiana lawmakers and regulators have taken steps to legalize operations in the state involving virtual currencies. On June 15, the Louisiana governor signed a bill that, effective August 1, 2022, will allow financial institutions and trust companies to provide virtual currency custody services to their customers as long as they satisfy certain requirements on risk-management and compliance. On June 20, the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions (OFI) published proposed rules on licensing and regulation of virtual currency businesses in the state pursuant to the Louisiana Virtual Currency Business Act, which went into effect on August 1, 2020.

Continue Reading Louisiana Approves Virtual Custody Services and Proposes Virtual Currency Business Licensing Rules

On May 4, the Connecticut Department of Banking issued a temporary cease and desist order directing a peer-to-peer lending platform that connected borrowers with third-party lenders to cease its lending-related activities on grounds that it was operating as an unlicensed small loan company.  The FinTech company was also cited for operating as an unlicensed consumer collection agency, and for engaging in deceptive acts or practices under consumer protection laws.
Continue Reading Connecticut Stops FinTech from Unlicensed Lending Activities

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

This January, Adrienne A. Harris was confirmed as superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, which administers New York’s BitLicense program, among others.  In a March 28 interview, Harris discussed the BitLicense program in detail and addressed some of its longstanding issues, including its slow response times to applicants and updating some of the outdated regulatory and operational aspects of the program.
Continue Reading New York’s Superintendent of Financial Services Addresses BitLicense Delays