Payment Processing + Cards

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.”

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.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, financial institutions and fintech businesses, including payment processors and money transmitters, are facing increased regulatory scrutiny and heightened consumer expectations. Our dedicated Payments team is at the forefront of these changes, actively addressing the full spectrum of legal challenges in this intricate and ever-evolving sector.

Last month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law Assembly Bill 2672, which both prohibits sellers from charging a credit card surcharge greater than what they are charged by the credit card company and requires sellers to clearly post the price of the credit card surcharge. The law will take effect on February 11, 2024.

On January 17, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or Bureau) issued a proposed rule with request for public comment to amend exemptions to Regulation Z so the Truth in Lending Act (TILA)/Regulation Z would apply to certain overdraft “credit” provided by insured financial institutions with more than $10 billion in assets, in furtherance of the Bureau’s crusade on “junk fees.” At a highlevel, the CFPB’s proposed rule would provide covered financial institutions with two options for offering overdraft “credit”: (1) a “courtesy” overdraft service with “breakeven” fees exempt from TILA/Regulation Z; or (2) a “covered overdraft credit” line/loan in connection with debit card or routing/account number transactions with “above breakeven” fees subject to TILA/Reg. Z. Under the proposal, an institution subject to the rule would have to provide full TILA disclosures and comply with other substantive TILA requirements for overdraft fees if they exceed costs or a low CFPB safe harbor amount.

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.

In a case of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was tasked with determining whether the alleged extracting and retaining of consumer data and tracking of customers using an online payment platform exposes defendants to personal jurisdiction in the state where an online purchase was made. The court concluded it does not. “When a company operates a nationally available e-commerce payment platform and is indifferent to the location of end-users, the extraction and retention of consumer data, without more, does not subject the defendant to specific jurisdiction in the forum where the online purchase was made.”

On November 7, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a proposed rule with request for public comment to amend existing regulations defining “larger participants” the CFPB supervises by adding a new section to define larger participants that offer digital wallets, payment applications, and similar services.

On October 17, the Clearing House Association, LLC (Association) and National Automated Clearing House Association (Nacha) joined forces to submit an amicus brief in support of a credit union held liable by a district court for a fraud perpetrated by an outside party on the sender of a wire. According to the amici, the district court wrongly held the credit union which banked the beneficiary of the wire responsible for the sender’s losses, even though it had no relationship with the sender. The case, Studco Building Systems US, LLC v. 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union, on appeal before the Fourth Circuit, challenges the district court ruling. The case deals with the liability scheme found in Article 4A of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). According to the amici, under the UCC the disappointed originator (the plaintiff) has recourse against the person paid (its own bank), but not against the bank that paid the beneficiary of the wire, with whom the sender has no relationship. The amici argue that “[t]he district court’s opinion muddles these rules, uncaps banks’ liability, and threatens the efficiency of all U.S. funds-transfer systems — not just the ACH networks — to the detriment of every economic participant, down to the consumer.”