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

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) announced in March 2020 that it would develop a new advisory opinion program under which it would publish in the Federal Register responses to questions seeking clarification of ambiguities in federal consumer financial law.  On November 30, 2020, the CFPB issued a final Advisory Opinion Policy (“AO Policy”) setting forth specific procedures for its Advisory Opinion Program.

Opinions issued under the AO Policy will be interpretive rules under the Administrative Procedure Act that respond to a specific need for clarity on a statutory or regulatory interpretive question.  See 5 U.S.C. § 553(b).  Each advisory opinion will include a summary of the material facts or covered products, and the CFPB’s legal analysis of the issue.  The CFPB expects that its advisory opinions will apply not only to the requestor, but also “to similarly situated parties to the extent that their situations conform to the summary of material facts or coverage in the advisory opinion.”

Continue Reading CFPB Finalizes Advisory Opinion Program Opening Door for Those Seeking Clarity on Ambiguous Statutory or Regulatory Questions

On October 27, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued its final rule setting the test for determining who the ‘true lender’ is in a loan transaction, including in the context of a lending partnership between a federally-chartered bank and a non-bank third party. The final rule adopts the two-pronged test set forth in the OCC’s proposed ‘true lender’ rule issued in July of this year – a bank is the ‘true lender’ if, as of the date of origination, the bank (1) is “named as the lender in the loan agreement,” or (2) “funds the loan.”  The rule further clarified that if one bank funds the loan but another bank is named as the lender in the loan agreement, the bank identified in the loan agreement will be considered the ‘true lender’ of the loan. That clarification is consistent with the fundamental rule of the Truth-in-Lending Act, which always makes the party on the loan agreement the “creditor” on that loan.

Continue Reading OCC Issues Final ‘True Lender’ Rule To Provide Clarity For Bank Lending Partnerships

On July 22, 2020, the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (“OCC”) proposed a new rule in the federal register, concerning when a bank or savings association is a “true lender,” when the loan is sold or assigned to different entities. The comment period for the OCC’s proposed rule ended on September 3, 2020, with mixed results.

Continue Reading OCC’s Attempt at Clarifying “True Lender” Principle Met with Mixed Results

On July 31, 2020, Varo Money Inc. announced that it was granted a national bank charter by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).  The charter will allow Varo, a mobile banking fintech, to launch a national bank and offer a range of financial services and products that are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC).

The announcement marks a historic moment for fintech companies, as Varo will become the first fintech company to obtain a national bank charter with the OCC.

Continue Reading Mobile Banking Startup Varo Money Becomes First Fintech Company Granted a National Bank Charter

On July 23, 2020, the New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) filed its appellate brief asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold the lower court’s decision to block the Office of Comptroller of the Currency’s (“OCC”)’s special purpose national bank charter (“fintech charter”).

The DFS initially challenged the OCC’s fintech charter in

This week’s U.S. Supreme Court opinion in Seila Law v. CFPB reached its most widely expected conclusion, ultimately allowing the CFPB to continue to operate. But the opinion also raises questions about previously initiated CFPB enforcement actions, and arguably raises constitutional issues about the many other federal agencies whose leaders are insulated from removal by