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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.

Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) issued a procedural rule streamlining the designation proceedings for nonbank supervision based on a particular entity posing “risks to consumers.” As discussed in “Our Take” below, the changes are designed to encourage nonbanks to volunteer to be supervised, while making it easier for the CFPB to impose supervisory oversight when companies do not consent.

Yesterday, three trade organizations filed a complaint in Colorado federal court challenging H.B. 1229, Colorado’s effort to limit interest charges by out-of-state financial institutions, which is set to take effect on July 1, 2024. As discussed here, in June 2023, Colorado passed H.B. 1229, limiting certain charges on consumer loans and simultaneously opting Colorado out of §§ 521-523 of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA). Sections 521-523 of DIDMCA empower state banks, insured state and federal savings associations and state credit unions to charge the interest allowed by the state where they are located, regardless of where the borrower is located and regardless of conflicting state law (i.e., “export” their home state’s interest-rate authority). However, § 525 of DIDMCA enables states to opt out of this rate authority with respect to loans made in the opt-out state.

On February 20, the Wisconsin Senate passed House Bill (HB) 574 to regulate earned wage access (EWA) products and services. HB 574 creates a new chapter to the Wisconsin Statutes that requires EWA providers to be licensed by the Division of Banking and imposes substantive and disclosure rules. HB 574 expressly exempts EWA offered by licensees under the new law from the licensed loan company provisions in Wis. Stat. § 138.09 but does not clearly address whether EWA is covered by the Wisconsin Consumer Act. HB 574 will be sent to Governor Tony Evers for signature.

In this special crossover episode with Payments Pros and The Crypto Exchange, Ethan Ostroff, James Kim, and Carlin McCrory discuss the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed rule to supervise large tech companies and other providers of digital wallets and payment apps. The proposed rule asserts that digital assets are “funds” subject to the Dodd-Frank Act and other federal consumer financial laws and regulations, which would expand the CFPB’s supervisory powers to examine companies facilitating crypto and other digital asset transactions.

On March 8, Washington State’s legislature passed a significant amendment (SB 6025) to the Consumer Loan Act (CLA) targeting bank model lending. SB 6025 is an updated version of a prior bill, discussed here. The act awaits Governor Jay Inslee’s signature.

On February 15, Massachusetts became the latest state to introduce legislation to regulate earned wage access (EWA) products and services. House Bill (HB) 4456 would create a new chapter to the Massachusetts Code explicitly stating that EWA services offered under the new chapter are not loans or other form of credit or debt, and voluntary tips or gratuities are not interest or finance charges. It further requires EWA providers to be licensed and provide mandatory disclosures to consumers. The bill is pending before the Joint Financial Services Committee.

Can digital comparison-shopping operators or lead generators violate the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) by preferencing products or services based on financial benefit? According to today’s guidance issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau), the answer to that question is yes. Specifically, according to the CFPB, operators of digital comparison-shopping tools can violate the CFPA’s prohibition on abusive acts or practices by steering consumers to certain products or services based on remuneration. Lead generators can also violate the CFPA if they steer consumers to one financial services provider over another based on compensation received. As is typical for the CFPB today, the Bureau has couched this guidance on its “abusive” authority under Dodd-Frank.

In this special joint episode of Payments Pros and The Crypto Exchange, Ethan Ostroff, James Kim, and Carlin McCrory discuss the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) proposed rule to supervise large tech companies and other providers of digital wallets and payment apps. The proposed rule asserts that digital assets are “funds” subject to the Dodd-Frank Act and other federal consumer financial laws and regulations, which would expand the CFPB’s supervisory powers to examine companies facilitating crypto and other digital asset transactions.

On February 23, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) released an order, dated November 30, 2023, establishing supervisory authority over installment lender World Acceptance Corp. The CFPB found that it had reasonable cause to determine that the conduct of World Acceptance “poses risks to consumers with regard to the offering or provision of consumer financial products or services,” and, therefore, the agency could exercise its supervisory powers over the company under the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). Notably, this is the CFPB’s first supervisory designation order in a contested matter, andy, as permitted by the Bureau’s amended rules governing this process, the Bureau chose to publicize its decision (and issue a press release about it).

Recently, three Republican members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Financial Services Committee, Patrick McHenry, Mike Flood, and French Hill, sent a joint letter to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) urging the agency to reopen the comment period and reconsider its November 2023 proposed rule regarding digital consumer payment applications. As discussed here, the Bureau is seeking to amend existing regulations by adding a new section to define larger participants that offer digital wallets, payment applications, and other services to fall within the CFPB’s supervisory scope. The Congressmen urge the CFPB to open the comment period on the proposed rule for an additional 60 days arguing that “[a]s it currently stands, this rule would introduce more regulatory uncertainty into the payment industry, particularly with respect to third-party service providers and digital asset companies.”