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

On March 23, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) responded to a request for an interpretative legal opinion as to whether the virtual currency services offered by a company require it to obtain a license under the California Money Transmission Act (MTA).
Continue Reading DFPI: Virtual Currency Platform is not Money Transmitter

Decentralized finance, DeFi, has quickly grown in popularity and is beginning to gain the attention of regulators attempting to stay ahead of one of the latest investor crazes. Blockchain-based financial technology such as DeFi largely operate outside of the traditional finance ecosystem occupied by  governmental agencies, intermediaries, central banks, brokerages, exchanges, and  banks by utilizing cryptocurrencies. DeFi providers are offering lending, banking, and investing options that are decentralized and not dependent on financial markets or regulations. As a result, DeFi providers often operate illegally or lack the protections that govern traditional financial service providers.
Continue Reading State Investor Advisory Addresses DeFi Risks

On March 24, Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed SB 183 into law making Utah the third state in the country to enact a Truth in Lending-like commercial financing disclosure law.  Utah joins California and New York to adopt such statutory commercial financing disclosure requirements.  As opposed to similar laws in California and New York, however, the Utah Commercial Financing Registration and Disclosure Act (the Act) does not include an “APR” disclosure requirement and requires commercial lenders to register as commercial loan providers with the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry and Utah Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).  The law has an effective date of January 1, 2023.
Continue Reading Utah Enacts Commercial Financing Disclosure Requirement

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 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

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