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Jeremy is an associate in the firm's Consumer Financial Services practice.

Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) issued an “interpretive rule,” subjecting “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) transactions to provisions of Regulation Z applicable to “credit cards.” Among other things, this classification would require BNPL and other lenders to extend many of the same legal protections and rights to consumers that apply to traditional credit cards, including the rights to dispute charges and demand refunds for returned products, and, potentially, receive periodic statements. The Bureau claims its authority to issue this interpretive rule — in lieu of a formal rulemaking — stems from the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and Regulation Z, and its general authority to issue guidance as set forth in § 1022(b)(1) of the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010.

On January 9, a group of five bi-partisan South Carolina Senators introduced Bill 910, which would, among other things, require persons (non-bank lenders) providing “consumer installment loans” or “deferred presentment loans” to conduct ability to repay (ATR) analysis. Insured state and federally chartered banks and credit unions are exempt from the provisions of the proposed law, which is currently before the Committee on Labor, Commerce, and Industry for review.

Late last month, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie introduced B 25-0609, entitled the Protecting Affordable Loans Amendment Act of 2023, that proposes to opt the District of Columbia out of sections 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). But another section of DIDMCA (section 525), permits states to opt out of sections 521-523 via legislation. If the bill passes, the District will join Colorado, discussed here, Iowa and Puerto Rico as the only jurisdictions currently opting out.

Yesterday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued guidance to banks on managing the risks associated with “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) lending. Specifically, the bulletin addresses BNPL loans that are payable in four or fewer installments and carry no finance charges. The stated aim of the OCC’s guidance is to ensure that these loans are offered in a manner that is safe, sound, and compliant with applicable laws and regulations.

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.

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.

As we reported here, late last year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) signaled that it planned to increase scrutiny of the Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) industry and issued its first report about BNPL. Yesterday, the CFPB issued a report exploring the financial profiles of BNPL borrowers. According to the CFPB, on average,

On February 13, a bill was introduced in the Utah House of Representatives, entitled HB 455, that would add protections relating to credit obligations and certain installment contracts for service members assigned to a “Utah-based military organization” (UBMO), defined as “a military organization headquartered in [Utah].”

HB 455 includes two primary protections that would

A recent federal court decision from the Northern District of Texas offers some useful lessons and insights for creditors relying on the Military Lending Act’s (MLA) safe harbors for verifying whether a consumer is a “covered borrower.”

In Greenwood v. Cottonwood Financial, Ltd., 2022 WL 3754706 (N.D. Tex. 2022) (see also court decision