CSBS Announcement: Arizona Department of Financial Institutions Becomes Latest State Agency to Adopt National SAFE MLO Test

On July 29, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced that the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions began using the National SAFE Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) Test, making it the 47th state banking agency to adopt the SAFE MLO Test containing Uniform State Content. Combining both the national and state testing requirements of the SAFE Act and the CSBS/AARMR model state law, the test with Uniform State Content was first made available to state banking agencies on April 1, 2013 to help streamline the application process for MLOs seeking to obtain licensure in more than one state. Since April 1, 2013, according to the CSBS, over 58,000 MLOs have taken the National SAFE MLO Test with Uniform State Content. Notably, applicants who take the test on or after October 3, 2015, will be expected to understand requirements of the TRID Rule as promulgated by the CFPB.

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CSBS Announces Multi-State Regulatory Groups’ Annual Reports to State Regulators

On April 27, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced that three working groups of state regulators – the State Coordinating Committee (SCC), the Multi-State Mortgage Committee (MMC), and the Multi-State MSB Examination Task Force (MMET) – issued annual reports to state regulators regarding their 2014 operations and progress. Responsible for information sharing and examination work with the CFPB, the SSC report outlines the two agencies’ 9 joint examinations. The MMC – established as the “oversight body for multi-state mortgage supervision” in 2008 – is responsible for coordinated, multi-state mortgage exams, and its report covers the 6 joint mortgage examinations conducted with the CFPB in 2014. Finally, the MMET supervises the money services businesses; its report highlights 57 examinations conducted jointly with the CFPB in 2014.

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CSBS Announces $5.2 Million Multi-State Enforcement Action Against Maryland-Based Mortgage Lender To Resolve Allegations Of Misconduct Relating To Continuing Education And Testing Of Mortgage Loan Originators

On April 13, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) announced a settlement agreement and consent order following a coordinated enforcement action launched by 43 states against a non-bank mortgage lender after finding that the lender’s mortgage professionals shared test information from mandatory compliance examinations and the lender’s compliance staff routinely completed continuing education and examination requirements for other employees. The case developed after state financial regulators in New Hampshire and Maryland discovered the misconduct and reported it to the Multi-State Mortgage Committee (“MMC”)—a group composed of state regulators charged with supervising mortgage lenders that operate in multiple states—which opened an investigation. Joined by 41 other states, the settlement agreement also found that many of the lender’s employees dishonestly completed continuing education requirements for other employees, including the mortgage lender’s chief executive officer and chief operating officer. The settlement agreement and consent order issued by the MMC for the breach of these duties included the imposition of a $5.2 million fine and commanded the removal and replacement of the lender’s chief operating officer. The agreement also ordered the lender to (i) prepare a comprehensive plan of improved corporate governance policies approved by the lender’s parent’s board of directors within 270 days, with a follow-up reported to the MMC on implementation of the plan required 270 days later, and (ii) hire an independent auditor to evaluate the lender’s training and education program. The same mortgage lender was also subject to a different and unrelated enforcement action in February 2015. The CFPB recently imposed a $2 million penalty against the lender for deceptive marketing practices and paying kickbacks to customer referrals.

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CSBS Proposes Regulatory Framework for Non-Bank Mortgage Servicers

On March 25, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (“AARMR”) issued a proposal seeking public comment on its Proposed Regulatory Prudential Standards for Non-bank Mortgage Servicers. According to the CSBS, the proposal is in response to an increasing number of non-bank servicers that continue to acquire mortgage servicing rights, and subsequently, require enhanced state regulation to (i) provide better safeguards for borrowers, investors, and other stakeholders, (ii) increase regulatory oversight and market discipline over non-bank mortgage servicers, and (iii) enhance transparency, accountability, risk management and corporate governance standards. Comments on the proposal must be received by June 25, 2015.

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Federal Banking Regulators Testify on “Regulatory Relief”

On February 10, officials from federal and state banking authorities – the Fed, FDIC, NCUA, OCC, and the CSBS – testified at a U.S. Senate Banking Committee on ways the agencies can provide “regulatory relief” to community banks and credit unions, which disproportionately incur burdens to implement the rules and provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act.  Specifically, officials from each of the federal banking agencies detailed current initiatives and proposals that would provide less burdensome compliance costs.

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CSBS Issues Policy, Draft Model Regulatory Framework, and Request for Comment Regarding State Regulation of Virtual Currency

As previously reported in our January 8 Digital Commerce & Payments alert and in InfoBytes, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) issued a Policy on State Regulation of Virtual Currency (the “Policy”), Draft Model Regulatory Framework, and a request for public comment regarding the regulation of virtual currency on December 16, 2014.  The Policy and Draft Model Regulatory Framework were issued through the work of the CSBS Emerging Payments Task Force (the “Task Force”). The Task Force was established to explore the nexus between state supervision and the development of payment systems and is seeking to identify where there are consistent regulatory approaches among states.

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Special Alert: CSBS Issues Policy, Draft Model Regulatory Framework, and Request for Comment Regarding State Regulation of Virtual Currency

On December 16, 2014, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) issued a Policy on State Regulation of Virtual Currency (the “Policy”), Draft Model Regulatory Framework, and a request for public comment regarding the regulation of virtual currency.  The Policy and Draft Model Regulatory Framework were issued through the work of the CSBS Emerging Payments Task Force (the “Task Force”). The Task Force was established to explore the nexus between state supervision and the development of payment systems and is seeking to identify where there are consistent regulatory approaches among states.

The Policy

As a result of its work to date, the Policy recommends that “activities involving third party control of virtual currency, including for the purposes of transmitting, exchanging, holding, or otherwise controlling virtual currency, should be subject to state licensure and supervision.” The Policy states that state regulators have determined certain activities involving virtual currency raise concerns in three areas: consumer protection, marketplace stability, and law enforcement. Read more…

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State Bank Regulators Request Feedback On Model Framework for Virtual Currency Activities

On December 16, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) announced its draft regulatory framework and requested public comment on specific questions intended to aid state regulators on the regulation of virtual currencies. The regulation of virtual currency activities currently varies from state to state. The draft framework is intended to create uniform state regulation. Comments are due by February 16, 2015.

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Federal, State Prudential Regulators Issue HELOC Guidance

On July 1, the OCC, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, the NCUA, and the Conference of State Bank Supervisors issued interagency guidance on home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) nearing their end-of-draw periods. The guidance states that as HELOCs transition from their draw periods to full repayment, some borrowers may have difficulty meeting higher payments resulting from principal amortization or interest rate reset, or renewing existing loans due to changes in their financial circumstances or declines in property values. As such, the guidance describes the following “core operating principles” that the regulators believe should govern oversight of HELOCs nearing their end-of-draw periods: (i) prudent underwriting for renewals, extensions, and rewrites; (ii) compliance with existing guidance, including but not limited to the Credit Risk Management Guidance for Home Equity Lending and the Interagency Guidelines for Real Estate Lending Policies; (iii) use of well-structured and sustainable modification terms; (iv) appropriate accounting, reporting, and disclosure of troubled debt restructurings; and (v) appropriate segmentation and analysis of end-of-draw exposure in allowance for loan and lease losses estimation processes. The guidance also outlines numerous risk management expectations, and states that institutions with a significant volume of HELOCs, portfolio acquisitions, or exposures with higher-risk characteristics should have comprehensive systems and procedures to monitor and assess their portfolios, while less-sophisticated processes may be sufficient for community banks and credit unions with small portfolios, few acquisitions, or exposures with lower-risk characteristics.

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CSBS Hosts Emerging Payments Hearing

On May 16, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors Emerging Payments Task Force held a public hearing to examine the changing payments landscape and opportunities and risks presented by current and emerging technologies. The Legacy Payment Systems panel focused on continued efforts to improve efficiency and speed while simultaneously “preserving consumer confidence and system stability.” The Retail Payments Innovations panelists described innovative electronic and mobile payment systems and suggested that further innovation would be best supported by existing regulatory framework, which offers sufficient consumer protections. Finally, the Virtual Currencies panel urged state and federal regulators to “provide clear and consistent regulatory expectations and guidance without restricting innovation.” The event was the most recent of a number held by federal and state policymakers to address the proliferation of emerging financial technologies used to move money and transfer funds, which range from enhancements of traditional ACH or credit and debit methods of payment to virtual currencies that disrupt the traditional model. The CSBS is expected to use public hearings like this one to develop a proposed regulatory framework for state agencies.

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CSBS Publishes Annual Report

On May 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) published its 2013 annual report, which aggregates and reviews the organization’s activities in the prior year, identifies future goals for the organization, and outlines specific priorities for 2014. Those priorities include, among others, continuing to coordinate with federal regulators on cybersecurity and with the CFPB on complaint sharing. The report also includes more detailed reports on past and future activities by various CSBS divisions and boards, including a report from the Policy and Supervision Division that reviews the CSBS’s legislative and regulatory policy positions, and its bank supervision and consumer protection and non-bank supervision activities.

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State Regulators Circulate Model Consumer Guidance On Virtual Currency

On April 23, the CSBS’s Emerging Payment Task Force, together with the North American Securities Administrators Association, released “Model State Consumer and Investor Guidance on Virtual Currency.” The model guidance provides basic background information on virtual currency, and tips for consumers considering buying, selling, transacting with, or investing in a virtual currency.

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State Regulators Form Emerging Payments Task Force

On February 20, the CSBS announced the formation of an Emerging Payments Task Force to study changes in payment systems—including virtual currencies and other innovations—to determine the potential impact on consumer protection, state law, and banks and nonbank entities chartered or licensed by the states. The Task Force is comprised of nine state regulators, including New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Lawsky who has recently indicated New York will seek to become the first state to directly address virtual currency through new regulations. The Task Force will be chaired by David Cotney, Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Banks, who testified on these issues on behalf of the CSBS last fall before the Senate Banking Committee. The CSBS stated that the Task Force will “take a comprehensive approach to studying the changing payment systems” by engaging with a broad range of federal, state, and industry stakeholders to understand how new entrants and technologies affect the stability of payment systems and the broader financial marketplace and “to develop ideas for connecting the emerging payments landscape to the financial regulatory fabric.”

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CSBS Announces Four More State Agencies Transitioning To Uniform Mortgage Test

On January 7, the CSBS announced that, as of January 1, four additional state or U.S. territorial agencies began using the National SAFE MLO test. With the addition of these four agencies—the Nevada Department of Business & Industry, the New Mexico Financial Institutions Division, the Puerto Rico Office of the Commissioner of Financial Institutions, and the U.S. Virgin Islands Division of Banking & Insurance—a total of 39 agencies are now using the test, which was announced last January and launched in April 2013. The test includes a uniform state component to replace the state-specific component in adopting states.

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Senate Committees Begin Review Of Virtual Currency Regulation

This week, two Senate Committees—Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs—held hearings to hear from regulators and other stakeholders about how virtual currencies fit within the existing regulatory framework, and to assess whether there is a need to alter that framework in response to potential risks presented by emerging virtual currency technologies. The hearings followed an inquiry initiated by Senate Homeland Security leaders over the summer. Senators who participated in the hearings did not indicate any desire to move quickly to establish new federal regulations to address potential risks presented by innovation in virtual currencies. Rather, the lawmakers generally expressed a desire not to inhibit continued innovation, while supporting market participants who want to play by the rules and protecting the market from those who do not. In both hearings, FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery described her agency’s ability to address the BSA/AML and terrorism financing risks presented by virtual currencies by employing FinCEN’s existing statutory authority and regulatory tools. Similarly, during the Senate Banking hearing, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors expressed confidence in the ability of state regulators to address consumer protection and other risks posed by virtual currencies through the existing state regulatory framework and processes. Still, committee members raised broader questions about the how to define or categorize virtual currencies (e.g. as a currency versus as a security) and the impact of such a classification on a range of other issues including monetary policy and tax administration. The breadth of the issues, which may need to be addressed by a range of government actors, formed the basis of Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Tom Carper’s (D-DE) call for a “whole government” approach to virtual currency.

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