State AGs Urge the CFPB to Ensure that States Maintain the Right to Set Usury Caps on High Cost Loans

In October, New York AG Eric T. Schneiderman, along with seven other state AGs (Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont and the District of Columbia), submitted a letter to the CFPB in response to the agency’s proposed rule addressing payday loans, vehicle title loans, and certain high-cost installment loans. While commending the CFPB for introducing additional consumer protections, the letter urges the CFPB to integrate the following language from the preamble of the proposed rule into the body of the final rule: “The protections imposed by this proposal would operate as a floor across the country, while leaving State and local jurisdictions to adopt additional regulatory requirements (whether a usury limit or another form of protection) above that floor as they judge appropriate to protect consumers in their respective jurisdictions.” The letter explains that because the CFPB does not have the authority to set interest rates – or usury caps – for loans, it is “crucial” that states maintain their right to do so.

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OCC Comptroller Curry Addresses Regulatory Concern Related to Fintech Industry; Outlines Possible Fintech Charter

On September 13, OCC Comptroller Curry delivered remarks at the Marketplace Lending Policy Summit, an inaugural event during which policy implications and regulatory concerns prevalent in the marketplace lending industry were discussed. Similar to past reports and remarks about marketplace lending, Curry expressed concern that the underwriting and business models used by the industry have yet to go through a complete credit cycle: “A less favorable credit cycle will test this business in ways it hasn’t yet experienced, and how sources of funding will hold up under stress remains to be seen.” In addition, drawing attention to the “long-term performance” issues related to marketplace lending, Curry posed the following inquiries: (i) whether new credit underwriting technologies and algorithms comply with existing laws and regulations, such as the Equal Credit Opportunity Act; (ii) whether existing laws, such as the Community Reinvestment Act, should be “amended radically” to ensure that consumers are sufficiently protected against nonbank lenders; (iii) whether an entirely new regulation or law is needed to “protect the public’s interest or prevent risk to the broader financial system”; and (iv) whether innovation itself should be regulated, and, if so, by which primary regulator(s). Notably, Comptroller Curry revealed that the OCC is in the process of developing a potential federal “fintech charter,” a framework that is expected to be released this fall. Comptroller Curry emphasized that, if the OCC grants limited-purpose fintech charters, institutions receiving the charters “will be held to the same strict standards of safety, soundness, and fairness that other federally chartered institutions must meet.”

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CFPB Announces Staff Changes

On July 20, the CFPB announced various senior leadership changes. Chris D’Angelo will now serve as Associate Director for Supervision, Enforcement and Fair Lending. D’Angelo joined the CFPB in June 2011 from the U.S. Treasury Department and has held a number of roles at the CFPB, the most recent of which was senior advisor to Director Cordray. Additional leadership changes include Richard Lepley serving as the CFPB’s Principal Deputy General Counsel in the Office of the General Counsel in the Legal Division, and Nellisha Ramdass serving as the Deputy Chief Operating Officer.

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NCRC Releases Fair Lending Report

On July 18, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) released a report analyzing data related to mortgage lending in St. Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and surrounding areas. According to the report, low- and moderate-income neighborhoods and predominantly minority neighborhoods lack access to mortgage credit. The report makes various key findings, including that: (i) the racial composition of neighborhoods in St. Louis and Milwaukee is a predictor of mortgage activity, with lending allegedly greater in predominantly white populated neighborhoods than in predominantly African American neighborhoods; (ii) 70 percent of the Milwaukee Metropolitan statistical area population is white and receives 81 percent of the loans, while African Americans make up 16 percent of the population and receive four percent of the loans; and (iii) median family income of a neighborhood is the variable that best predicts home loan activity in Minneapolis. The report follows a similar analysis of alleged racial disparities in mortgage lending in Baltimore, Maryland released by NCRC last year.

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CFPB Publishes Ninth Semi-Annual Report to Congress

On June 30, the CFPB published its ninth Semi-Annual Report to Congress covering supervisory and enforcement actions, rulemaking activities, newly designed consumer tools, and published reports from October 1, 2015 through March 31, 2016. The Semi-Annual Report provides an overview of relevant topics addressed in previous CFPB reports and bulletins, including monthly Consumer Complaint reports, Supervisory Highlights, and the February 2016 compliance bulletin regarding Regulation V. The report outlines, among other things, the CFPB’s (i) efforts to monitor the effectiveness of the SAFE Act; (ii) fair lending activities, including its risk-based fair lending prioritization process and recent public enforcement actions; and (iii) ongoing efforts to define larger participants in markets for consumer financial services and products which are subject to the Bureau’s supervisory authority. According to the report, the Bureau’s supervisory actions during the six month period covered in the report provided over $44 million in compensation to over 177,000 consumers, while enforcement actions in the same time period resulted in “approximately $200 million in total relief for consumers who fell victim to various violations of consumer financial protection laws, along with over $70 million in civil money penalties.”

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