Today's Headlines

    Kraninger Nomination Advances in Senate

    The Senate this afternoon invoked cloture on the nomination of Kathy Kraninger as the Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP). The 50 – 49 vote ends debate on the nomination and sets up a final vote sometime after December 4.

    AFSA strongly supports President Trump's nomination for the Director’s position. The association submitted a letter of support to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on November 19.

    The letter, in part, said, "Ms. Kraninger is an excellent choice to lead the Bureau and to continue Mr. Mulvaney’s pragmatic, measured approach to ensuring that consumers benefit from safe, affordable products provided by the most responsible members of the consumer credit industry."

    Sen. McConnell filed the cloture motion required to move to Kraninger's nomination on November 15th.

    Trump Administration takes further steps to ensure the end of Operation Choke Point

    Although officially ended by the Trump administration in 2017, Operation Choke Point has been in the news again recently.

    This fall, newly-unsealed court documents revealed more information about the Obama administration’s ideologically-driven policy. For example, new evidence shows that Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) Regional Director Anthony Lowe instructed his staff to use “all available means, including verbal recommendations, to strongly encourage [banks] to refrain from any activities that provide assistance to the business activities of [payday] lending.”

    In response to this and other new information, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.), who chairs a House subcommittee on financial institutions and also sponsored legislation to prevent Operation Choke Point from occurring again, sent a letter to FDIC Chairman Jelena McWilliams and Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting. Rep. Luetkemeyer asked the FDIC and OCC to “investigate this matter and take immediate and firm action against those who have so blatantly abused the power vested in them.”

    As a result of the letter, Chairman McWilliams said that the FDIC has hired outside legal counsel and is calling for additional training for examiners. Comptroller Otting said that “the OCC had no policy or program that targeted any business operating within state and federal law,” and reiterated that he is committed to ensuring that it does not have such a policy in the future.

    AFSA joined other trades in a letter to Senate leadership supporting Rep. Luetkemeyer’s bill, H.R. 2706, the Financial Institutions Consumer Protection Act of 2017. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House last year. The trade associations are encouraging the Senate to pass the legislation before the end of the year.

    BFCP and Fed Announce Adjusted TILA Threshold Amounts for 2019

    On November 21, 2019, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection and the Federal Reserve announced the updated Truth in Lending Act (TILA) threshold limits for 2019.  Certain consumer credit transactions that are larger than the threshold limit are exempt from TILA, although private education loans and loans secured by real estate are subject to TILA regardless of transaction amount.  The TILA threshold amount is adjusted annually based on inflation.  For 2018, the threshold limit was $55,800.  For 2019, the threshold limit will be $57,200. 

    Final Webinar of the Year to Cover Top Ten Debt Collection Lessons from 2018

    We’ve seen a number of developments in debt collection this year. Technology is changing the way debt is collected. The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection has made progress in its debt collection rulemaking. The courts have weighed in with new interpretations of old law. This webinar will highlight the top ten debt collection issues and offer best practice suggestions.

    Caren D. Enloe, Partner with Smith Debnam and Kelly Knepper-Stephens, VP Legal and Compliance of TrueAccord will cover these issues in the final AFSA webinar of 2018 on December 13th at 2 p.m.

    Register today.

    The need for innovation spreads from state to federal regulators

    AFSA this year has provided its members the opportunity to learn about the concept of a FinTech sandbox from speakers at both the state and federal levels.

    The first state to create a FinTech sandbox was Arizona. The sandbox concept in Arizona, according to Attorney General Mark Brnovich, is a way to reduce regulations without stifling technology.

    Addressing AFSA’s inaugural Law and Compliance Symposium last January, Brnovich said the initiative allows fintech companies “to come up with a better mousetrap to serve the citizens of Arizona.” This is against the backdrop of Arizona being among the states having the most stringent consumer protection laws in the nation.

    Fast-forward to AFSA’s Annual Meeting last month. The topic of the FinTech sandbox on the federal level was addressed by Paul Watkins, Director of the Office of Innovation at the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP).

    Ironically, the federal agency hired Watkins in July from the Arizona Attorney General’s office. There, Watkins was Chief Counsel for the Arizona AG’s 150-person civil litigation division. Additionally he led the office’s sandbox initiative with the aim of easing regulatory burdens for firms trying to launch new products.

    “Innovation can protect consumers in ways regulations cannot,” Watkins said at the AFSA Annual Meeting. “Arizona now has seven applicants operating in the sandbox.”

    “At the BCFP, we did not create the upside in customer service,” he said. “We rely on businesses to bring products to market. The bureau seeks to promote competition.”

    AFSA’s latest podcast analyzes the midterm election results

    The latest edition of the AFSA Today podcast features Ann Carmichael, Vice President of Congressional Affairs at AFSA. Ann analyzes, among other topics, changes in leadership at the important House Financial Services Committee on both sides of the aisle, and how that could shape both the future legislative agenda affecting the consumer credit industry and the direction of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. The podcast is now available here.

    AFSA’s December podcast will feature Philip Bohi, Vice President of Compliance Education at AFSA, discussing the role of compliance in the consumer credit industry and how it impacts AFSA members and their customers.