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

On December 16, 2021, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued civil monetary penalties against a Texas community bank for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”).  The consent orders read like a veritable “how not to” for reviewing anti-money laundering alerts.

Continue Reading OCC and FinCEN Issue $9 Million in Penalties for BSA-AML Violations

On December 16, the CFPB issued a series of orders to five companies offering “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) credit.  The orders seek to collect information on the risks and benefits of these “fast-growing” products over concerns about “accumulating debt, regulatory arbitrage, and data harvesting in a consumer credit market already quickly changing with technology.”  BNPL is a deferred payment option that allows consumers to split a purchase into smaller installments, typically four or less, often with a down payment of 25 percent due at checkout.  To underscore BNPL’s current popularity, a report issued by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation recently reported that “[t]he top six buy now pay later lenders accounted for 10,924,547, or 91 percent, of the total consumer loans originated in 2020” (we discussed this report in an earlier Consumer Finance & FinTech Blog post here).

Continue Reading CFPB Issues Orders to Companies Offering BNPL Credit

The CFPB has amended Regulation Z to address the anticipated sunset of LIBOR, which is expected to be discontinued in June 2023.  Some creditors currently use LIBOR as an index for calculating rates for open-end and closed-end products.  The effective date of this final rule is April 1, 2022.


Continue Reading CFPB Published Reg. Z Amendments to Facilitate Libor Transition

Last month, the FDIC, Federal Reserve Board, and the OCC announced a final rule to improve information sharing about cyber incidents that may affect the U.S. banking system.  Among other things, the final rule requires banking organizations to inform their primary federal regulator no later than 36 hours after a determination that a “computer-security incident” has reached the level of a “notification incident.”  The final rule notes that notification is required for incidents that have affected, in certain circumstances:

Continue Reading Federal Bank Regulators Approve New Cybersecurity Incident Notification Rule

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has enhanced its regulatory scrutiny of the fees financial institutions assess on consumer depositors.  To better understand the gamut of such fees and financial institutions’ practices with respect to the same, the CFPB has required financial institutions to submit detailed quarterly statements identifying and breaking out the various types of fees assessed on consumer accounts.  In particular, the CFPB has required them to provide aggregate amounts charged as (i) overdraft and non-sufficient funds (“NSF”) fees; (ii) periodic account maintenance fees; and (iii) ATM fees (in particular, the fees charged in connection with consumer transactions at out-of-network ATMs).  The CFPB has now analyzed the consumer fee data going back to 2015 and published two reports: (i) Data Point: Overdraft/NSF Fee Reliance Since 2015—Evidence from Bank Call Reports; and (ii) Data Point: Checking Account Overdraft at Financial Institutions Served by Core Processors.  In general, the reports reveal that overdraft and NSF fees constitute one of the primary sources of financial institution revenues generated from consumer banking operations.  Indeed, overdraft fees alone generated more than $15 billion in revenues for banks and credit unions in 2019.

Continue Reading The CFPB Study Shines Spotlight on Banking Fees as a Presage to Greater Regulatory Scrutiny of Consumer Banking Fees

On November 16, the California DFPI released Version 2.0 of its Annual Report of Finance Lenders, Brokers and PACE Administrators Licensed under the California Financing Law (CFL).  The Annual Report examined unaudited data gathered from finance lenders, brokers, and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) administrators licensed under the CFL, as well as new data from the “buy now, pay later” or BNPL industry.

Continue Reading DFPI Reports Increase in Consumer Loans Under $2,500, Decrease in Consumer Loans Between $2,500 and $10,000

On November 18, the Chief Counsel of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a fourth interpretive letter (Letter 1179) regarding whether it is permissible for national banks and federal savings associations to engage in certain cryptocurrency, distributed ledger, and stablecoin activities.  The letter clarifies ambiguities in the previous three letter including  the authority of a bank to engage in certain cryptocurrency activities and the authority of the OCC to charter a national trust bank.

Continue Reading OCC Chief Counsel Clarifies Bank Authority to Engage in Crypto

On November 23, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“banking agencies”) released a joint statement recognizing that the emerging crypto-asset sector presents potential opportunities and risks for banking organizations, their customers, and the overall financial system.

Continue Reading Banking Agencies Provide Crypto-Asset Roadmap as a Result of Interagency “Policy Sprints”