Ahead of an upcoming merger between a digital banking platform and a special purpose acquisition company, both parties disclosed in a regulatory filing last week that the platform received a Civil Investigative Demand (“CID”) in June 2020 related to its “cash paycheck advance business in compliance with the prohibition against UDAAPs, the EFTA, and, to the extent it applies, the Truth in Lending Act.”  According to the filing, the platform provided the CFPB with all information and documents required by the CID, and on September 27, 2021, the CFPB staff notified the company that it currently did not intend to recommend that the CFPB take any enforcement action.

Continue Reading CFPB Opts Not to Take Action Against Banking App

On September 21, 2021, the FinTech task force of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing on consumer privacy. The hearing was live-streamed and the archived webcast is available on the Committee website.

Continue Reading More Regulatory Clarity on the Horizon for FinTech

Last month we wrote a blog relating to a consent order entered into by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) with a servicer of income share agreements.  The DFPI determined that, despite claims by the provider to the contrary, the income share agreements are student loans that subject the provider to California’s licensing requirements.  It did not take long for the CFPB to enter the fray.  On September 7, the CFPB entered into a consent order with Better Future Forward, Inc. and various affiliates (collectively BFF) in which the CFPB determined that the company:

Continue Reading Are Income Share Agreements Loans? The CFPB Says Yes

On August 27, the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and OCC jointly published guidance on the types of due diligence community banks should engage in when contemplating arrangements with financial technology companies or FinTechs.  While the diligence guidance is voluntary, the banking agencies suggest that community banks should conduct due diligence with respect to FinTechs in six key areas:  (i) business experience and qualifications, (ii) financial condition, (iii) legal and regulatory compliance, (iv) risk management and controls, (v) information security, and (vi) operational resilience.  The guidance then provides subcategories for due diligence within each category, and provides relevant considerations for the bank for each subcategory, and potential sources of information.  The subcategories are as follows:

Continue Reading Banking Agencies Release Due Diligence Guidance on Community Bank-FinTech Relationships

On August 5, California’s Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced that it entered into a consent order with a New York-based FinTech company that offers student Income Share Agreements (ISAs) to finance post-secondary education and training.  According to the DFPI, it is the first agreement to subject an ISA provider to state licensing and regulation.  The agreement reflects the DFPI’s decision to treat these private financing products as student loans for the purpose of the California Student Loan Servicing Act (SLSA).  Below are significant highlights from the agreement:

  • The DFPI found that the SLSA defines “student loans” broadly to include “any loan” or “extension of credit” and does not exclude contingent debt.
  • Under the ISAs, students agree to repay a school a fixed percentage of their future gross income after graduation, but only if the student is employed and making more than an agreed-upon amount.
  • The settlement provides that the DFPI will issue the company a conditional license under the SLSA based on its finding that ISAs are “student loans” for the purposes of the SLSA.


Continue Reading California Regulator Signals New Scrutiny of Student Lending Industry, Enters Into Consent Order with Servicer of Income Share Agreements

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.


Continue Reading Maine Enacts “True Lender” Legislation, Amends Consumer Credit Code to Include Anti-Evasion Provisions

On July 12, the CFPB issued a consent order against a FinTech company for facilitating point of sale financing activities without authorization from consumers.  The consent order requires the company to pay up to approximately $9 million in redress to impacted consumers and a $2.5 million civil money penalty.

Continue Reading CFPB Takes Action Against FinTech Company for Originating Unauthorized Loans

At the recent FDIC conference, “Fintech: A Bridge to Economic Inclusion,” FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams remarked that while the proportion of U.S. households that were banked in 2019 was 94.6 percent, 7 million households still reported no banking relationship.  She also noted that “the rates for Black and Hispanic households who do not have a checking or savings account at a bank remain substantially higher than the overall ‘unbanked’ rate.”  Referencing her personal challenges in establishing credit as a young immigrant to the United States 30 years ago, McWilliams discussed technology’s role in creating and facilitating a more inclusive financial system through the FDIC’s multi-pronged, novel approach to tackle the issue of financial inclusion, which includes:

Continue Reading FDIC Chairman Discusses FinTech and Bank Innovation

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis recently announced an investigation into the role of four Fintech companies and partner banks in issuing allegedly fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.  The Subcommittee’s press release references certain reports that the Fintech industry and its bank partners “have been linked to a disproportionate number of fraudulent PPP loans . . . raising questions about whether FinTechs and their bank partners have adequately screened PPP loan applications for fraud.”  This announcement builds on the Subcommittee’s March 25 findings that the Treasury Department and SBA failed to institute adequate safeguards to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in pandemic relief programs, leading to nearly $84 billion in potentially fraudulent loans.
Continue Reading House Subcommittee Launches Investigation into FinTech Companies’ Role in Allegedly Fraudulent PPP Loans