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.
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.”
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.
On October 11, the State Regulatory Registry (SRR) proposed changes to (i) the uniform NMLS company, branch, and individual licensing forms developed by state regulators and used by all states through NMLS and (ii) the NMLS Mortgage Call Report (MCR). The proposal incorporates public comments received following an initial April 2013 proposal. The proposed licensing form changes would, among other things, (i) allow a company to designate more than one branch manager within an industry, (ii) revise business activity on company and branch forms, and (iii) collect other trade names on company and branch forms by agency and not by state. Changes to the NMLS licensing forms and certain changes to the format of the MCR are expected to be implemented in March 2014. The proposal notes that given expected changes to HMDA reporting requirements, the SRR will propose substantive changes to the MCR in 2014 with an expected implementation timeframe in 2015. Comments on the proposed changes are due by November 11, 2013.
On October 1, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors announced that five additional state agencies have implemented the new national SAFE MLO test, bringing the total number of participating state agencies to 35. The new test, which was announced in January and launched in April, includes a uniform state component to replace the state-specific component in adopting states.
On July 1, the CSBS announced that ten additional state agencies will use the new National SAFE MLO test. Twenty state agencies adopted the test when it initially was introduced in April 2013. The uniform test combines both the national and state testing requirements of the SAFE Act, replaces the separate, state-specific tests for the states that adopt it, and streamlines the license application process for mortgage loan originators (MLOs) seeking licenses in multiple states. The CSBS reports that an additional five state agencies are scheduled to adopt the test by the start of 2014.
On May 21, the CFPB and the CSBS released an agreement to coordinate supervision of entities subject to concurrent jurisdiction of the CFPB and one or more state regulators. The Supervisory Coordination Framework is a nonbinding guide that builds off of the parties’ 2011 Memorandum of Understanding, which has since been signed by 59 state regulators. The Framework establishes processes for information sharing, consulting on corrective actions, and coordinating exam schedules and supervisory plans. The Framework also includes a general process for resolving disputes between the CFPB and state regulators, and directs the parties to develop additional processes and procedures to ensure standardization and consistency in implementing the Framework.
On May 2, the CSBS released its 2012 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 2013. The paper also incorporates more focused reports on past and future activities by various CSBS divisions and boards, including a report from the Policy and Supervision Division that reviews bank supervision, consumer protection and non-bank supervision, and legislative and regulatory policy, including the CSBS positions on community bank regulatory relief and federal proposed capital rules.
Earlier this month, the CSBS sought comment on potential revisions to (i) the uniform NMLS company, branch, and individual licensing forms and (ii) the quarterly NMLS Mortgage Call Report. The forms create a national standard of information collection for entities licensed through NMLS, while the quarterly call reports provide comprehensive and uniform information concerning the financial condition of licensed mortgage companies, their mortgage loan activities, and the production information of their mortgage loan originators. The state regulators are seeking comment on, among other things, potential improvements to form changes made in 2012. With respect to the call reports, the state regulators are seeking input on (i) the definition of “application” in the call report, (ii) criteria to be used when determining which companies file the different versions of the report, (iii) whether any policies, requirements, data fields, or definitions should be amended, and (iv) which aggregate call report data should be publicly reported. Comments are due by June 11, 2013.
On April 10, the CSBS sent a letter to Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Representative Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) – the chief sponsors in their respective chambers of Congress of legislation related to online payday lending – to express support for the bills. The letter focuses on the provisions of the SAFE Lending Act, S. 172 and H.R. 990, that seek to (i) ensure consistent application of state usury laws and (ii) enhance state authority over online lenders. Noting that state regulators have found “countless instances of unlicensed and unregulated online payday lending” in violation of state law, the CSBS contends that the bills should be considered a “framework for the proper state-federal regulatory balance” with respect to online, short-term, small-dollar loans.
On April 2, the CSBS released a letter it sent to encourage the CFPB to adopt an additional procedural mechanism for the CFPB to utilize when determining whether an area should be defined as “rural.” The CSBS explains that the Dodd-Frank Act confers Qualified Mortgage benefits on balloon loans if they are made in rural or underserved areas and that the CFPB has elected to utilize the USDA Economic Research Service’s Urban Influence Codes as the basis of their definition of “rural.” The letter identifies inconsistencies with the existing rural classification systems, and suggests that the CFPB adopt a petition process whereby institutions can seek a determination that a specific area be considered rural for purposes of certain Truth in Lending rural requirements.
On February 20, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR) issued a statement commending the CFPB for its recent guidance regarding mortgage servicing transfers. The statement explains that state regulators, who generally have jurisdiction over state member and non-member banks and non-depository institutions, similarly have identified potential for consumer harm when loans are transferred during the loss mitigation process. CSBS and AARMR strongly encourage state-supervised servicers to familiarize themselves with applicable state requirements, the various federal laws, and the CFPB guidance, and stated that they plan to update state uniform servicing examination procedures through appropriate Multistate Mortgage Committee processes to account for the new CFPB Guidance.
On January 16, the CSBS announced that a new national mortgage loan originator (MLO) test with a uniform state component will be available on April 1, 2013. The 2009 SAFE Act requires that MLOs pass a test in order to obtain a state originator license through the NMLS. Since adoption of the SAFE Act, the test has been comprised of two parts: a national component and a state-specific component. The new test administered by the NMLS is meant to streamline the licensing process for originators seeking to obtain licenses in multiple states. Twenty state agencies will no longer require a state-specific test component as of April 1, 2013, with four more states removing the requirement on July 1, 2013. The NMLS posted additional details about the test, including costs and enrollment eligibility.
On December 7, the Conference of State Bank Supervisors announced a joint effort with the U.S. Secret Service (Secret Service) and the Financial Services-Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) to assist financial institutions in adopting best practices to reduce the risks of corporate account takeover, a form of identity theft where cyber criminals gain control of a business’ bank account by stealing credentials and then initiate fraudulent wire and ACH transactions. The recommended practices were developed by a task force formed by the Texas Banking Commissioner and the Secret Service. Using in part the contributions from leading data security and audit firms that serve the community banking industry, the practices expand upon the “Protect, Detect, and Respond” framework developed by the Secret Service, the FBI, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, and FS-ISAC.
On November 26, the Federal Reserve Board, the FDIC, and the OCC, together with the CSBS, issued guidance on implementation of section 612 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which imposes restrictions on conversions of national banks and federal savings associations to state-chartered institutions and vice versa. As the Interagency Statement describes, section 612 generally prohibits such charter conversions while an institution is subject to either a formal enforcement order issued by its primary regulator involving a significant supervisory matter or to a memorandum of understanding entered into with its primary regulator involving a significant supervisory matter. The Statement (i) explains that federal and state agencies consider the prohibition to cover all formal enforcement actions by a federal or state agency, (ii) encourages institutions subject to the prohibition that are seeking conversion under one of the several exceptions to notify regulators prior to submitting a conversion application, and (iii) outlines the processes by which federal and state agencies will comply with the notification and information sharing requirements of section 612.