The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently reversed a district court’s ruling, which had denied a motion to compel arbitration of Opportunity Financial (OppFi) on the basis that the arbitration clause was substantively unconscionable due to the choice of law provision in the loan agreement containing the arbitration clause. The Ninth Circuit vacated the decision and directed the district court to refer the matter to arbitration.

On January 9, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (CA DFPI) announced a consent order with Credova Financial, LLC, (Credova) to resolve allegations that, in violation of the California Consumer Financial Protection Law, the company failed to disclose potential third-party fees to consumers. Pursuant to the settlement, Credova is required to pay a $50,000 penalty and disclose potential third-party convenience fees to consumers in the future.

On January 2, New York Governor Kathy Hochul unveiled her 2024 consumer protection agenda, which includes plans to regulate the “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) industry. Specifically, Governor Hochul plans to propose legislation to require BNPL providers to be licensed in the state and to authorize the New York State Department of Financial Services to propose and issue regulations for the industry. According to Governor Hochul, “New Yorkers are increasingly turning to [BNPL] loans as a low-cost alternative to traditional credit products to pay for everyday and big-ticket purchases. This legislation and regulations will establish strong industry protections around disclosure requirements, dispute resolution and credit reporting standards, late fee limits, consumer data privacy, and guidelines to curtail dark patterns and debt accumulation and overextension.”

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.

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.

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 March 29, the New Mexico Financial Institutions Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department’s (NM FID) new rule on the New Mexico-Annual Percentage Rate (NM-APR) becomes effective. We previously blogged about New Mexico’s 36% APR cap on loans of $10,000 or less under the Small Loan Act (SLA) and Bank Installment Loan Act (BILA)

Last year, Missouri State Senator Justin Brown (R) introduced a bill that would have imposed certain mandatory disclosure requirements for commercial financing transactions. Ultimately, the bill failed to advance. On December 1, 2022, Senator Brown reintroduced a similar bill, known as SB 187, which also requires registration of a commercial financing broker. The bill

Can websites or mobile apps that offer ranked lists of mortgage providers purportedly best suited for individual consumers violate section 8 of the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (RESPA)? According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) in its recent advisory opinion, these digital platforms may violate the RESPA if the platform: