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As a former senior enforcement attorney with the CFPB, James provides the industry knowledge and expertise that fintechs and financial institutions require when launching new products or facing regulatory scrutiny.

On September 14, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) released a report on Tuition Payment Plans in Higher Education. Ninety-eight percent of colleges now allow students to pay for their education in installments using tuition payment plans. Tuition payment plans have a wide range of structures and may be managed by the schools or administered by third-party payment processors. Typically, tuition payment plans are interest-free, but, according to the CFPB, many charge enrollment fees, late fees and returned payment fees. The Bureau asserts that these fees can create a high cost of credit. Specifically, the CFPB states that when the amount borrowed is low and the enrollment fee is high, students can face annual percentage rates as high as 237%.

On September 8, a federal court in the Eastern District of Texas granted summary judgment in favor of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) and several other trade associations, holding that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB or Bureau) “March 2022 manual update is beyond the agency’s constitutional authority based on an Appropriations Clause violation

On August 22, a district court judge in the Western District of New York denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss a case brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA).

On August 1, Maryland’s Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) issued guidance to “provide clarity on how [the OFR] views Earned Wage Access [EWA] products and to describe the requirements entities offering these products must adhere to.” Unfortunately, the guidance largely fails to deliver the promised clarity.

As discussed here, on January 4, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the New York Attorney General (NY AG) filed a joint complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Credit Acceptance Corporation (Credit Acceptance), a major subprime indirect auto finance company. The joint complaint alleges that Credit Acceptance pushed dealers to sell cars with hidden interest costs, include add-on products, and inflate prices. On March 14, Credit Acceptance filed a motion to dismiss the complaint. On March 21, Troutman Pepper filed an amicus brief in support of Credit Acceptance on behalf of the American Financial Services Association, the Consumer Bankers Association, and the Chamber of Commerce of the United States. Credit Acceptance’s motion to dismiss and Troutman’s amicus brief pointed out the deficiencies in the complaint and fatal flaws in the plaintiffs’ legal theories, as well as challenging, under the appropriations clause of the U.S. Constitution, the CFPB’s right to use unappropriated funds to bring a lawsuit against Credit Acceptance. This issue is currently pending before the Supreme Court in Community Financial Services Association of America Ltd. (CFSA) v. CFPB (discussed here).

On June 6, Nebraska Governor Jim Pillen signed into law Legislative Bill 92, which, among many other subjects, amends the Nebraska Installment Loan Act (the NILA). Previously, a license was required for a lender seeking to take advantage of the usury authority provided by the NILA and also for any person that holds or acquires any rights of ownership, servicing, or other forms of participation in a loan under the NILA. Legislative Bill 92 expands the scope of the licensing requirement to “any person that is not a financial institution who, at or after the time a [covered] loan is made by a financial institution, markets, owns in whole or in part, holds, acquires, services, or otherwise participates in such loan.” “Financial institution” is broadly defined to include all federally insured depository institutions. And the licensing requirement, by its terms, applies to entities providing limited services and/or purchasing limited interests (not just the predominant economic interest) in loans by financial institutions of $25,000 or less, with rates exceeding the Nebraska general usury limit.

On July 26, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) released the summer edition of its Supervisory Highlights report, providing a high-level overview of alleged unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices (UDAAP) identified by the agency during examinations from July 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023. The findings included in the report cover examinations in the areas of auto origination, auto servicing, consumer reporting, debt collection, deposits, fair lending, information technology, mortgage origination, mortgage servicing, payday and small dollar lending, and remittances.

On July 7, Missouri Governor Mike Parson signed SB 103 into law, which prohibits any person from offering earned wage access (EWA) services without registering with the Division of Finance and paying an annual $1,000 fee. The law also requires EWA providers to develop procedures for dealing with consumer questions and complaints, specifies notices required to be given to consumers, and regulates the types of fees that may be charged and the manner in which repayments may be pursued. The law further specifies requirements should the EWA provider solicit, charge, or receive tips or gratuities from consumers. Like Nevada, discussed here, the law specifies that EWA products are not loans or money transmissions under Missouri law. In March 2023, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation took the opposite position with respect to EWA products and proposed new regulations under the California Financing Law that would update the definition of loan to include EWA products, except for those offered by employers.

On June 14, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo signed into law AB 332, An Act Relating to Student Education Loans, requiring, among other things, student loan servicers to be licensed by the Commissioner of Financial Institutions and regulating certain conduct of the servicers towards borrowers. The law will take effect on January 1, 2024.

As discussed here, on October 19, 2022, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Community Financial Services Association of America, Limited (CFSA) v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) held that the CFPB’s funding mechanism violates the appropriations clause because the CFPB does not receive its funding from annual congressional appropriations like most executive agencies, but instead, receives funding directly from the Federal Reserve based on a request by the CFPB’s director. In response, the CFPB filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court. On February 27, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the CFPB’s petition (discussed here).