On October 21, Judge Victor Marrero of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an order in Lacewell v. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (No. 18-cv-8377) striking down the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s (“OCC”) special purpose national bank charter for fintechs (“FinTech Charter”). After years of challenging the FinTech Charter—a charter authorizing fintechs to engage in non-depository banking activities—the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”) has, for now, succeeded in overturning the charter. The OCC defended its authority by arguing that 12 CFR Part 5.20(e)(1) is consistent with the National Bank Act (“Act”) and authorizes the OCC to issue special purpose charters to nondepository banking institutions. The Court disagreed, finding that the National Bank Act only authorizes the OCC to charter depository institutions. The Court concluded that the Act allows the OCC to charter institutions engaged in the “business of banking,” and the “business of banking” necessarily includes accepting deposits. Therefore, the FinTech Charter is beyond the OCC’s authority.Read More
On June 24, 2019, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and the Federal Reserve Board (“Fed”) (collectively, the “Agencies”) amended Regulation CC, which implements the Expedited Funds Availability Act (the “EFAA”), to adjust for inflation the amount of funds depository institutions must make available to their customers after funds have been deposited and the civil liabilities for failing to meet these obligations (the “Amendment”). However, depository institutions will not need to adjust their compliance procedures right away. To “help ensure that institutions have sufficient time to implement the adjustments,” the Agencies set July 1, 2020 as the compliance deadline. Below is a summary of the key funds availability rules and how they are changed (or not) by the Amendment.Read More
The growing popularity of virtual currency over the last several years has raised a host of legislative and regulatory issues. A key question is whether and how a state’s money transmitter law applies to activities involving virtual currency. Many states have answered this – albeit in a non-uniform way – through legislation or regulation, including regulatory guidance documents. For instance, Georgia and Wyoming have amended their money transmitter statutes to include or exclude virtual currencies explicitly. In other states, such as Texas and Tennessee, the state’s primary financial regulator has issued formal guidance. In New York, the Department of Financial Services issued an entirely separate regulation for virtual currencies. Still, in others, neither the legislature nor the relevant regulator has provided any insight into how the state’s money transmitter law may apply.Read More
Blockchain technology and the virtual currency, or cryptocurrency, that uses this technology are revolutionizing the way businesses function and deliver goods and services. Even as cryptocurrency becomes a widely debated topic, gaining the critical attention of regulators and policymakers, individuals and businesses are investing billions of dollars in cryptocurrency annually.
To understand how blockchain and cryptocurrency may impact you, your business, and your industry, it is important to understand what cryptocurrency is and how the underlying blockchain works. This article provides a brief introduction to these concepts as well as a primer on cryptocurrency legal issues.
By Judith E. Rinearson, Rizwan Qayyum
The debate surrounding “screen-scraping” continues as Member States of the European Union are preparing for the impending Second Payment Services Directive (“PSD2”). Screen scraping is the practice in which third-party Payment Initiation Service Providers (“PISPs”) and Account Information Service Providers (“AISPs”) are granted access to bank accounts of a client utilising their credentials to perform a service. As heralded in our discussion in July identifying the problem, the European Banking Authority (“EBA”) maintained their stance of outlawing the practice in the final draft Regulatory Technical Standards (“RTS”) on secure communication and Strong Customer Authentication (“SCA”). Consistent industry pressure has led the European Commission (“EC”) to request of the EBA to permit AISPs and PISPs to utilise screen scraping as a “fallback option”.
By: John ReVeal
More than three years after proposing amendments to Regulation CC to add new indemnities for remotely deposited checks, new warranties for electronic checks and electronic returned checks, and new indemnities for electronically created items, the Federal Reserve has at last issued final rules. These new rules also modify the expeditious return rules, including by making electronic returned checks subject to those requirements. The final rules were issued on May 31, 2017, and will take effect on July 1, 2018.
To read the full alert, click here.
By Soyong Cho
Yesterday, the FDIC hosted a day-long Economic Inclusion Summit that brought together stakeholders in private industry, the government, and non-profit organizations to discuss strategies to expand credit to under-served communities. Speakers stressed the need to understand the personal and financial challenges facing low- and moderate-income (“LMI”) populations in order to more effectively design products and marketing channels to reach LMI communities. Leveraging big data and technology were identified as key factors to reducing costs and profitably serving LMI customers.
Banks are of course rated on their outreach initiatives to under-served communities under the Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”), but profitably expanding their customer base is also good business. The FDIC’s Summit serves as a reminder of the established programs, partnerships, and networks that exist to assist banks to meet their CRA obligations. However, it is also a good reminder that banks must be sensitive to the regulatory compliance and other risks attendant with marketing to and servicing LMI communities in particular, as even the best intentions can be undermined by flawed implementation or unclear regulatory guidance. Among others, UDAAP, fair lending, and privacy issues should be considered in all phases of product development and delivery. In the coming months, K&L Gates will be hosting a series of webinars focused on the nuts and bolts of consumer protection compliance.
Last week the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) issued a Draft Supplement to its Licensing Manual (“Supplement”) in furtherance of its proposal to rolling out a special purpose national bank (“SPNB”) charter for financial technology (“fintech”) companies. The Supplement outlines the process by which a fintech company may apply for a SPNB charter, and the considerations the OCC will take into account when evaluating such applications. A link to the Supplement appears here.
The Supplement reiterates OCC determination that the SPNB charter would be “in the public interest” because it would provide “uniform standards and supervision,” “support the dual banking system,” promote “growth, modernization, and competition” in the financial system, and encourage fintech companies to “promote financial inclusion.” It also makes clear the OCC’s determination to promote financial inclusion and to rebut criticisms that the SPNB charter would represent a light touch regulatory regime.
New York partners Anthony Nolan and Judith Rinearson will be speaking in a Strafford live webinar on “New Special Purpose National Bank Charter for FinTech Companies: Evaluating the Benefits and Regulatory Pitfalls on Thursday, March 16 2017 at 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT. This will focus on a recent proposal by the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to consider granting special purpose national bank charters to FinTech companies that are engaged in fiduciary activities or in activities that include receiving deposits, paying checks, or lending money. The special purpose charter offers the benefits of federal preemption and some state licensing requirements. However, there are regulatory and supervisory burdens that must be carefully considered such as activity limitations, BSA/AML requirements and minimum capital and liquidity requirements.
The panel will provide an overview of the OCC’s proposal for special purpose national bank charters for FinTech companies and the potential regulatory pitfalls that FinTech companies must consider. The program will address the OCC’s chartering process and the supervisory, financial and operational conditions that would apply. It will review these and other key issues:
- Benefits of special purpose national bank charters for FinTech companies;
- Regulatory pitfalls of special purpose national bank charters for FinTech companies;
- The OCC’s chartering process and the supervisory, financial and operational conditions that would apply;
- Positions of other relevant US bank regulatory agencies;
- Implications for the future development of the Fintech industry in the United States.
For more information or to register click here.
On December 2, 2016, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) announced its plans to move forward with a proposal to consider applications from financial technology (“fintech”) companies to receive charters as special purpose national banks. The OCC simultaneously released a white paper detailing the program. The OCC is seeking comments on its proposal, including responses to 13 specific questions listed in the paper. The announcement is potentially significant for the fintech sector, but questions remain as to whether a special bank charter would represent a fundamental change or merely an incremental enhancement. The comment period ends on January 15, 2017.
To read the full alert, click here.