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Jeremy focuses his practice on federal and state lending and consumer practices laws, with emphasis on the interplay between federal and state laws, joint ventures between banks and nonbank financial services providers, the development and documentation of new financial services products (especially products designed to serve the needs of unbanked and under-banked consumers), bank overdraft practices and disclosures, geographic expansion initiatives, and compliance with federal and state consumer protection laws, including statutes prohibiting unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices (UDAAP); usury laws; the Truth in Lending Act (TILA); the Electronic Funds Transfer Act; E-SIGN; the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

On February 12, ten Rhode Island senators introduced S 2275, a bill proposing to opt Rhode Island out of §§ 521-523 of the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA). On February 13, HF 3680 was introduced in Minnesota, proposing to opt-out of DIDMCA expressly as to non-credit card forms of credit. These legislative efforts to opt-out of DIDMCA, coupled with the influx in recent “true lender” legislation, seem to show a coordinated effort to restrict bank-model lending.

Recently, Lead Bank and its loan servicer Hyphen, LLC, an online lending platform operating Helix Financial, filed a motion to dismiss a purported class action alleging violations of the Georgia Installment Loan Act (GILA) and Georgia racketeering law arising out of a consumer installment or “payday loan.” Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the loan agreement between herself and Lead Bank was “nothing more than a façade, and a temporary one at that” in an attempt to evade Georgia’s restrictions on payday lending.

We are pleased to share our annual review of regulatory and legal developments in the consumer financial services industry. With active federal and state legislatures, consumer financial services providers faced a challenging 2023. Courts across the country issued rulings that will have immediate and lasting impacts on the industry. Our team of more than 140 professionals has prepared this concise, yet thorough analysis of the most important issues and trends throughout our industry. We not only examined what happened in 2023, but also what to expect — and how to prepare — for the months ahead.

On January 15, the American Arbitration Association (AAA) issued amended Mass Arbitration Supplementary Rules and new Consumer Mass Arbitration and Mediation Fee Schedules (collectively, the New Rules). The New Rules will apply to all mass arbitration cases filed on or after January 15, but not to any mass arbitrations filed prior to that date. The New Rules aim to reduce friction and enhance process efficiency. However, unless the New Rules are supplemented by a well-constructed pre-dispute arbitration agreement, they will not solve the principal problems posed by mass arbitrations.

On January 10, HB 254, entitled the True Lender Act, was introduced before the Maryland House of Delegates. The Act would amend the Maryland Commercial Law to add an article containing both predominant economic interest and totality of the circumstance tests to determine the “true lender” of a loan. A hearing on HB 254 is scheduled on January 23.

Washington now joins the list of states that have enacted or proposed legislation adopting so-called anti-evasion provisions, including legislation passed in Minnesota, discussed here, Connecticut, discussed here, Nebraska, discussed here, and proposed in Florida, discussed here. On December 5, HB 1874 was filed, which would amend the Washington Consumer Loan Act (CLA) to adopt both predominant economic interest and totality of the circumstance tests to determine the “true lender” of a loan under the CLA. It also takes aim at the use of voluntary tips, other gratuities or memberships and non-recourse loan programs.

On October 9, a Florida state senator introduced SB 146, which would add a new section to the Florida Consumer Finance Act (CFA), attempting to curb evasion of the CFA. SB 146 would treat all payments incident to the loan as interest, even if voluntary, and would adopt both predominant economic interest and totality of the circumstance tests for true lender purposes. SB 146 follows other states’ attempts to address true lender issues, including legislation passed in Minnesota, discussed here, and Connecticut, discussed here.

A California state court recently denied a preliminary injunction sought by the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (the DFPI) in its long-running litigation against Opportunity Financial (OppFi) contending that OppFi is the “true lender,” and therefore subject to usury limits, on loans originated by OppFi’s bank partner. The court found that on the factual record before it that the DFPI had not shown a reasonable probability of prevailing on the merits of its claim.

In response to a petition filed last week by a number of consumer advocacy groups, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) announced that it will be seeking public input on a possible rule that would curtail mandatory pre-dispute arbitration provisions.

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.