On October 30, the Superior Court of California County of Los Angeles denied the DFPI’s motion for a preliminary injunction to force a Chicago-based fintech company to stop facilitating loans to California borrowers from its bank partner at interest rates above California’s interest rate cap (generally 36% for loans less than $10,000) (we previously discussed this case here and here).Continue Reading California Court Denies DFPI’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction Against Fintech
Earlier this month, the Colorado legislature voted to approve HB23-1229, which would opt the State out of Section 521 of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act of 1980 (“DIDMCA”), a federal law enacted to create competitive equality between state-chartered banks and national banks. Section 521 gives federally insured banks, state credit unions, and state savings institutions the ability to export the interest permitted under their home state laws to borrowers in other states notwithstanding any interest limitations in the borrower’s state.Continue Reading Colorado Approves DIDMCA Opt-Out, Raising Concerns for Consumer Credit Access
On January 11, 2023, a Texas federal court dismissed a class action lawsuit against a leading financial technology company alleging it violated Texas usury laws by charging interest on loans it made through a partnership with a state-chartered bank at rates above the maximum allowed under Texas law. The plaintiff alleged that the partnership amounted to a “rent-a-bank” scheme designed to evade state law such that financial technology company, rather than its bank partner, was the “true lender” on the loans. In dismissing the lawsuit, the district court entered an order accepting and adopting the magistrate judge’s report and recommendation, finding the arbitration clause in the plaintiff’s note and disclosure statement (the “Note”) enforceable and recommended that the complaint be dismissed with prejudice. The district court also compelled arbitration of the plaintiffs’ claims.Continue Reading FinTech Prevails in Texas “True Lender” Challenge
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 8, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ruled against three states – California, Illinois, and New York – challenging the OCC’s rule on the “valid when made” doctrine. In 2020, the OCC issued a final rule codifying the “valid when made” principle by clarifying that the determination of whether interest on a loan is permissible is determined when the loan is made and that a bank’s transfer of a loan to a third party does not impact the validity or enforceability of that interest.
Continue Reading OCC Prevails in Challenge to “Valid When Made” Rule
On February 8, the District of Columbia attorney general announced a settlement with a FinTech company for alleged violations of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) by marketing high-costs loans carrying interest rates exceeding D.C.’s interest rate caps. The complaint, filed in June 2020, alleged that the company offered two loan products to D.C. residents with APRs ranging from 99 to 251 percent, exceeding D.C.’s rate cap limit of 24 percent.
Continue Reading DC OAG Reaches $4 Million Settlement with FinTech Over Claims of Predatory Lending
Hawaii recently enacted HB 1192, which amends the state’s small dollar lending law by setting forth a new licensing requirement for “installment lenders” and specifies various consumer protection requirements. The amendments, which impact consumer loans of $1,500 or less, include a broad definition of “installment lender” that would capture loans offered under a bank partnership model:
Continue Reading Hawaii Amends Small Dollar Lending Law
Maine’s Governor, Janet Mills, recently signed S.P. 205/L.D. 522, which amended the Consumer Credit Code to protect consumers from predatory and fraudulent lending practices. In particular, the amendments include an anti-evasion provision under which purported bank agents or service providers are deemed “lenders” for the purposes of statute. The amendment contains the following key provisions:
- Covered entities “may not engage in any device, subterfuge or pretense to evade the requirements of this Article, including, but not limited to…making, offering, assisting, or arranging a debtor to obtain a loan with a greater rate of interest, consideration or charge than is permitted by this Article through any method.”
- Loans that violate these provisions are “void and uncollectible as to any principal, fee, interest or charge.”
- A person qualifies as a lender if it:
- holds, acquires or maintains, directly or indirectly, the predominant economic interest in the loan;
- markets, brokers, arranges or facilitates the loan and holds the right, requirement or first right of refusal to purchase the loan or a receivable or interest in the loan; or
- the totality of the circumstances indicate that the person is the lender and the transaction is structured to evade the requirements of this Article.
- The circumstances that would weigh in favor of an entity being deemed the lender include, without limitation, when the entity:
- indemnifies, insures or protects an exempt entity for any costs or risks related to the loan
- predominately designs, controls or operates the loan program, or
- purports to act as an agent or service provider for an exempt entity while acting directly as a lender in other states.
- Lenders who violate these provisions may not furnish information concerning a debt associated with the violation to a consumer reporting agency, nor may it refer the associated debt to a debt collector.
On June 24, the U.S. House of Representatives passed S.J. Res. 15 by a vote of 218-208 to repeal the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (OCC) “True Lender” rule under the Congressional Review Act (CRA). The OCC published the rule last year to establish a “simple, bright-line test” to determine when a national bank or federal savings association is the true lender. Under the rule, a bank is the true lender and makes a loan if, as of the date of origination, it (i) is named as the lender in the loan agreement or (ii) funds the loan. Further, the final rule amended the initial proposed rule and added that if, as of the date of origination, one bank is named as the lender in the loan agreement and another bank funds that loan, the bank that is named as the lender in the loan agreement is deemed to have made the loan. The U.S. Senate passed S.J. Res. 15 last month by vote of 52-47 to invoke the CRA and provide for congressional disapproval and invalidation of the final rule. The repeal now heads to President Biden who is expected to sign it.
Continue Reading House Votes to Repeal OCC True Lender Rule