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Financial services companies depend on Joe for all aspects of their regulatory and compliance needs. Drawing from two decades of experience in the sector, he provides actionable guidance in a complex and evolving landscape.

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).

As discussed here, in a recent letter, the Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) outlined the agency’s supervisory priorities for 2024. In this post, we delve deeper into the area of consumer protection oversight.

On January 23, the Chairman of the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) released a letter outlining its supervisory priorities for the new year. While the organization acknowledged that the credit union system had remained largely stable during 2023, it observed growing signs of financial strain on balance sheets. Specifically, the “rise in interest rate and liquidity risks resulted in an increase in the number of composite CAMELS code 3, 4, and 5 credit unions. Inflation and interest rates are affecting household budgets, which could lead to an increase in credit risk in future quarters.”

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.

On December 4, a federal district court for the Central District of California granted summary judgment in favor of the Commissioner of the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) finding that regulations adopted last year under California’s Commercial Financing Disclosures Law (CFDL) do not violate the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights and are not preempted by the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Under the CFDL, providers are required to give certain disclosures similar to consumer transactions, such as the amount of funding the small business will receive, the APR, a payment amount (if applicable), the term, details related to prepayment policies, and (for products without a monthly payment) an average monthly cost.

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 a major victory for small business lenders, yesterday the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted motions filed by three groups of trade association intervenors to extend the court’s existing injunction against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB or Bureau) enforcement of its final rule under § 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Final Rule) to cover all small business lenders nationwide. A discussion of the preliminary injunction issued by that Texas federal court on July 31 can be found here. The injunction in Texas Bankers Association v. CFPB will dissolve if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses the Fifth Circuit in Community Financial Services Association v CFPB (CFSA case), which found the CFPB’s funding structure unconstitutional.

On October 24, the Federal Reserve Board (Fed), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) (collectively, the agencies) finally issued their long-awaited final rule modernizing how they assess lenders’ compliance under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The CRA was enacted in 1977 to address systemic inequities in access to credit and encourages banks to meet the credit needs of the entire community, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) communities, consistent with safety and soundness principles. The last meaningful, comprehensive revision to the CRA regulations occurred in 1995.