On July 12, 2021, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (Board), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) proposed interagency guidance on how banks should manage third-party relationships, including partnerships with fintech companies. The proposal would offer a framework for banks when developing risk management practices for their third-party relationships, taking into account the level of risk, complexity, size of the organization, and the nature of the third-party relationship.
After years of litigation, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency’s (“OCC”) special purpose national bank charter (“fintech charter”) survives to see another day. On June 3, 2021, the Second Circuit reversed the district court’s decision denying the OCC’s motion to dismiss, delivering a blow to the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) and paving the way for the OCC to again accept applications for its fintech charter.
On March 9, 2021, the Second Circuit heard oral arguments in connection with the New York Department of Financial Services’ (“DFS”) challenge to block the Office of Comptroller of the Currency’s (“OCC”) special purpose national bank charter (“fintech charter”). The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York in September of 2018, shortly after the OCC made available its special purpose bank charter.
The fintech charter would allow certain non-depository fintech companies to operate as “special purpose national banks” under the National Bank Act (“NBA”), which is overseen by the OCC without the burden of state-by-state regulation and licensing. The OCC views deposit-taking as just one of the activities undertaken by banks in the “business of banking” under the NBA. However, critics, including the DFS, argue deposit-taking is essential to the “business of banking,” which should preclude non-depository fintech companies from obtaining national bank protections.
On March 3, the Securities and Exchange Commission released its examination priorities for 2021. While most of the list echoes priorities from previous years, this year’s version includes a greater concentration on climate-related risk and environmental, social and governance matters.
Read our complete commentary on McGuireWoods’ Subject to Inquiry Blog for highlights from the 2021 examination priorities, which also address Regulation Best Interest compliance, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and a continued focus on complex products.
It was only just over a month ago that President Biden selected David Uejio, a long-time senior leader at the CFPB with a low public profile, to lead the agency temporarily as Acting Director. But already, Mr. Uejio has made very significant changes at the agency, implementing what he calls a “change of direction” with sweeping announcements on a weekly basis. Even as the Senate prepares to consider President Biden’s nominee, current FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, to lead the CFPB for a full term at a March 2 hearing, it is time to assess where the agency stands after the Biden Administration’s first month and the likely changes still to come.
Last week, we reported that on December 30, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) issued compliance assistance sandbox (“CAS”) approval to Payactiv, Inc. (“Payactiv”) regarding specific aspects of its earned wage access (“EWA”) product.
Payactiv’s Chief Legal Officer, David Reidy, expressed Payactiv’s reaction to the Approval Order this way – “We are grateful for the hard work and commitment the Bureau showed through this whole process. Everyone involved believes in EWA as an important and innovative benefit for workers. I couldn’t be more proud that Payactiv is the first and only EWA provider to be granted this approval.”
New York, California and six other States filed a widely expected lawsuit on January 5 seeking to invalidate the “True Lender” Rule recently issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”). As we previously reported, the OCC’s True Lender Rule — finalized in October and effective since December 29 —provides bright-line tests for determining, in the context of a lending partnership between a national bank (or federal thrift) and a third-party (often a FinTech or other non-bank firm), which entity actually “made” the loan, i.e., which entity was the “true lender.”
On December 30, 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) granted approval to Payactiv, Inc. (“Payactiv”) to offer its earned wage access (“EWA”) program under the CFPB’s Policy on the Compliance Assistance Sandbox, among the first approvals under the CFPB’s regulatory sandbox.
In its approval order, the CFPB granted approval to various aspects of Payactiv’s EWA program and grants Payactiv a safe harbor from liability under the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) and Regulation Z.
In an earlier article, we provided an overview of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (“CFPB”) earned wage access (“EWA”) advisory opinion. In the opinion, the CFPB identified seven requirements for a “Covered EWA Program,” i.e., an EWA program that would “not involve the offering or extension of ‘credit’” under the Truth In Lending Act (“TILA”) and its Regulation Z.
On December 3, 2020, the SEC announced that FinHub (the Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology) was being upgraded to an independent office. Acknowledging the importance of the all things fintech (emerging technologies and innovation in financial services), the SEC stated that creating a stand-alone office:
“[S]trengthens the SEC’s ability to continue fostering innovation in emerging technologies in our markets consistent with investor protection. The office will continue to lead the agency’s work to identify and analyze emerging financial technologies affecting the future of the securities industry, and engage with market participants, as technologies develop.”