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Fintech lender Opportunity Financial (“OppFi”) and the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (“DFPI”), California’s financial-services regulator, filed dueling claims as they battle over state efforts to enjoin the company’s branded loans, which exceed California’s 36% interest-rate cap. This is the latest effort by fintech lenders to cement the True Lender Rule against state opposition.

Continue Reading Opportunity Financial’s Lawsuit Against California’s Financial-Services Regulator Signals Continued Fight Over “True Lender” Principles

Blockchain regulation continues to be the topic du jour, with increasing scrutiny from government agencies across the board. The latest comes from the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS), which has been a leader in the space since the 2015 “BitLicense” framework under the New York Financial Services Law. On April 28, 2022, new DFS Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris issued fresh guidance encouraging cryptocurrency companies to adopt blockchain analytics tools as a best practice.

Continue Reading New York State Department of Financial Services Takes Aim at Blockchain Entities Circumventing Sanctions on Russia

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.

Continue Reading Bank Regulators Propose Interagency Guidance on Fintech Partnerships

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.

Continue Reading OCC’s Fintech Charter Survives After Reversal in the Second Circuit

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.

Continue Reading Oral Arguments Held in Challenge to OCC’s Fintech Charter

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.”

Continue Reading A Detailed Look At The CFPB’s Historic Approval of Payactiv’s Earned Wage Access (EWA) Program under Regulatory Sandbox Policy

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.”

Continue Reading States Sue to Set Aside OCC’s True Lender Rule

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.

Continue Reading CFPB Grants Historic Approval to Payactiv, Approving Payactiv’s Earned Wage Access (EWA) Program under Regulatory Sandbox Policy

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.

Continue Reading CFPB’s Fee-Free Model Requirement Set Forth In Its Wage Access Advisory Opinion Raises More Questions

As we previously explained, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (“CFPB”) recently finalized Advisory Opinion Policy allows any person or entity to request an advisory opinion from the agency.  When the CFPB finalized that Policy on November 30, 2020, it concurrently issued its first two advisory opinions: one addressing earned wage access (“EWA”) programs, and one concerning private education loan products.  This article specifically comments on the important EWA advisory opinion.

EWA programs generally allow employees to access wages they have already worked for and accrued, but have not yet been paid.  In its EWA advisory opinion, the CFPB stated that EWA programs incorporating several specific features do “not involve the offering or extension of ‘credit,’” and thus, do not fall under the purview of Regulation Z, which implements the Truth In Lending Act (“TILA”).

Continue Reading CFPB Unveils In First Advisory Opinion That TILA Does Not Apply to Certain Earned Wage Access Products