On Monday, a federal district court judge in the District of Columbia issued an order dismissing a lawsuit brought by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) regarding a proposal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to issue federal charters to certain Fintech firms. In dismissing the case, US District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich held the CSBS did not have standing to sue because the OCC had not yet officially decided to issue charters to Fintech companies. Judge Friedrich explained that the CSBS lacks standing to bring the suit because the harms it alleges are “contingent on whether the OCC charters” a Fintech company, and “[s]everal contingent and speculative events must occur before the OCC” issues such a charter. Continue Reading Federal Court Dismisses “Speculative” and “Attenuated” Lawsuit By the Conference of State Bank Supervisors Over Proposed OCC Fintech Charter
On Tuesday, a federal district court in the Southern District of New York issued an order dismissing a lawsuit brought by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) regarding a proposal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to issue federal charters to certain fintech firms. In dismissing the case, U.S. District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald held the NYDFS did not have standing to sue because the OCC had not yet officially decided to issue charters to fintech companies. Judge Buchwald explained that because the OCC had not made “a final determination” that it will issue such charters, the injuries alleged by the NYDFS are “too future-oriented and speculative” to support the lawsuit.
By way of background, in December 2016, the OCC announced plans to study whether it could issue special purpose charters to fintech firms. In March 2017, OCC Comptroller Thomas J. Curry announced the OCC would be issuing charters to fintech companies. In the same month, the OCC released a document describing how fintech companies could apply for a charter. In May 2017, Mr. Curry stepped down from his position, and President Trump named Keith Noreika Acting OCC Comptroller.
The NYDFS then sued the OCC regarding the proposal to grant charters to fintech companies. According to the NYDFS, the OCC did not have authority to issue a charter to fintech companies and should not allow such companies to operate in New York without complying with the state’s usury law and other consumer financial regulations. In the following months, Acting Comptroller Noreika stated several times that the OCC had not reached a final decision about whether to issue charters to fintech companies. Joseph Otting was then nominated by President Trump as permanent Comptroller of the Currency and was confirmed in November 2017. In Judge Buchwald’s decision, she noted that she was not aware of any statement by Mr. Otting indicating his position on fintech charters.
The Conference of State Bank Supervisors filed a similar lawsuit against the OCC in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The OCC filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit as premature, which motion is currently pending before the court.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has issued its first No-Action Letter (“No-Action Letter” or “Letter”) in response to a request from Upstart Network, Inc. (“Upstart”). The No-Action Letter means that CFPB staff currently has no intention of recommending enforcement or supervisory action against Upstart. This decision is limited to the application of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”) and its implementing regulation, Regulation B, to Upstart’s automated model for underwriting applicants for unsecured, non-revolving credit (“automated model”).
Upstart is an online lending platform that, working with a bank partner, uses alternative data to facilitate credit and pricing decisions for consumers with limited credit or work history. In addition to relying on traditional credit information, Upstart uses non-traditional sources of information to evaluate a consumer’s creditworthiness. For instance, Upstart might look at an applicant’s educational information, such as school attended and degree obtained, and the applicant’s employment to determine financial capacity and ability to repay. Upstart submitted a Request for No-Action Letter (“Request”) in relation to its automated model to the CFPB pursuant to the agency’s no-action letter policy.
According to the CFPB, the no-action letter policy is intended to facilitate consumer-friendly innovations where regulatory uncertainty may exist for certain emerging products or services. In practice, however, the process has presented significant challenges for companies that might seek to benefit from it. Continue Reading CFPB Issues No-Action Letter to Alternative Credit Lending Platform
Last week was busy for the financial technology industry (Fintechs) and non-bank regulators.
New York joined the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) in filing a lawsuit against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and announced plans to adopt a uniform licensing system for Fintechs. CSBS issued its support of the lawsuit, announced Vision 2020 for Fintechs, and invited industry to participate in developing the uniform licensing system (the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System, or NMLS) chosen by most state regulatory agencies as the universal platform for licensing and supervising the Fintech business sector.
Learn more about Vision 2020 and NMLS 2.0 in Mayer Brown’s Legal Update.
Financial services providers, marketplace lenders and secondary market purchasers doing business in the state of New York can breathe at least a temporary sigh of relief this week. Controversial changes proposed to the state’s Licensed Lender Law included in a pair of companion budget bills were dropped when these bills were amended on Monday. Assembly Bill 3008 and Senate Bill 2008, as introduced in the legislature on January 23, 2017 would have expanded the scope of consumer and commercial loans, and types of business activities, subject to licensing by the New York Department of Financial Services (the “Department”) under the Licensed Lender Law. If enacted into law, these proposed amendments would have triggered new licensing obligations for companies doing business in the state, potentially reaching marketplace lenders, other Fintech companies and secondary market purchasers.
On November 17, 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a request for information (RFI) to better understand the benefits and risks associated with market developments that rely on access to consumer financial records. The Bureau indicated that the information it obtains in response to its request may help shape industry best practices for delivering consumer benefits and minimizing consumer harm, and also could serve as a foundation for future CFPB guidance.
The Bureau’s RFI comes in the wake of the CFPB’s first report on its Project Catalyst and CFPB Director Cordray’s speech at the October 2016 Money 20/20 conference. During his remarks, the Director conveyed strong support for the ability of consumers to access their financial data and “grave concerns” about reports that financial institutions are seeking to limit such access. Although banks and other institutions have expressed privacy- and information security-related concerns about providing consumer financial information to third parties, Director Cordray emphasized the importance of consumers being able to obtain their information and suggested that the focus should be on ensuring that the information remains secure, rather than on limiting access. Continue Reading CFPB Enters the Fray: Agency Solicits Information About “Screen Scraping”