Monthly Bulletin – October 2020
Volume 8, Number 3
Governor Signs Law to Revamp, Rename the Department of Business Oversight
Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation that adopts his plan to modernize, rename, and revamp California’s Department of Business Oversight (DBO) with the added staff and authority necessary to cement its position as a premier financial regulator and national model for consumer protection.
The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law (CCFPL) renames the DBO the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) and gives the Department expanded enforcement powers to protect California consumers from pandemic-inspired scams and a regulatory retreat by some federal agencies, most notably the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The new law also is designed to promote innovation, clarify regulatory hurdles for emerging products and increase education and outreach for vulnerable groups.
“This new law will significantly increase consumer protections at this critical time without imposing undue burdens on honest and fair operations,” DFPI Commissioner Manuel P. Alvarez said. “In addition, it will cultivate and engage innovation, while modernizing our operations so that we may serve consumers, licensees, and all Californians more meaningfully and efficiently.”
Effective Jan. 1, the new law gives the Department new regulatory powers to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices committed by currently unlicensed financial services or products. The name change took effect immediately upon the signing of a companion measure, AB 107.
In addition, the governor’s proposal:
- Creates a Division of Consumer Financial Protection to supervise those financial services not now regulated by the department. The new division will include a market monitoring and research arm, and expanded consumer outreach targeted to vulnerable populations such as students, new Californians, military personnel, and senior citizens.
- Creates an Office of Financial Technology Innovation that will engage with new industries and consumer advocates to encourage consumer friendly innovation and job creation in California.
The expansion includes 90 additional employees to be hired over three years to focus on the new activities. The added staff will be financed from department reserves for the first three years. After that, the department projects increased annual costs of $19.3 million.
New Contact Info for Department of Financial Protection and Innovation
The Department of Financial Protection and Innovation has relocated our Sacramento office. Please save the following address:
Department of Financial Protection and Innovation
(Formerly “Department of Business Oversight”)
2101 Arena Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95834
To ensure mail reaches the Department, please start using the new address immediately.
California To License Debt Collectors and Buyers
California will require debt collectors and buyers operating in the state to be licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) under a new law effective Jan. 1. SB 908 (Chapter 163, Statutes of 2020) also requires debt collection attorneys to be licensed by the DFPI.
The law authorizes the DFPI to take borrowers’ complaints and enforce violations. It will give consumers a single location to check whether companies are licensed, and whether they have been subject to any enforcement actions, including license suspensions or revocations. Funding will come from licensing fees on the industry.
New Student Loan Protections
Governor Newsom also signed into law new protections for student loan borrowers in California.
AB 376 (Chapter 154, Statutes of 2020) creates the Student Loan Ombudsman, under the DFPI, to respond to consumer complaints, refer violations, and make recommendations. The bill authorizes the Department to request data from student loan servicers and work with the Ombudsman to inform the public about problems in the industry.
The new law takes effect on July 1, 2021.
New Tenant and Landlord Protections and Resources
Another bill signed by the Governor provides protections for tenants and landlords financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
AB 3088 (Chapter 37, Statutes of 2020) outlines a process for a tenant to file a COVID-19-related financial distress declaration, which would prohibit landlords from evicting the tenant for nonpayment of rent before Feb. 1, 2021. The bill extends protections under the Homeowner Bill of Rights (HBOR) to small landlords (non-owner occupied, one to four units) until Jan. 1, 2023.
If a mortgage servicer denies a forbearance request from a borrower between the bill’s signing date and April 1, 2021, the law requires the servicer to specify reasons for the denial. If the reasons are curable, like an incomplete application, the law requires the servicer to give the borrower 21 days to cure the issue. Borrowers can seek redress in court for material violations of these new provisions.
Tenants and landlords can learn more about the new Tenant, Homeowner and Small Landlord Relief and Stabilization Act of 2020 at the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency (BCSH) website.
CSBS Announces Comprehensive Exam for Nationwide Payments Firms
The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) has announced the launch of a state-initiated program that could enable nationwide payments firms and money services businesses to undergo one comprehensive exam in 2021 to satisfy all state examination requirements. Known as MSB Networked Supervision, the initiative applies to 78 of the nation’s largest payments and cryptocurrency companies and money transmitters that currently meet the threshold of operating in 40 or more states. These companies combined move more than $1 trillion a year in customer funds.
Building on years of multistate coordination, this exam protocol will enable states to fine-tune a risk-based approach to each company’s operations. When compliance issues arise, the states will be better positioned to follow up throughout the year.
Each exam will be led by one state overseeing a group of examiners from across the country. By relying on experts across the state system — including in cybersecurity and anti-money laundering — regulators will gain more insight while also freeing up state resources.
Invite for Comments: Commercial Financing Regulations
The DFPI is seeking public comment by Oct. 28 on Initial Proposed Text developed to carry out SB 1235, which requires lenders and other commercial financing companies to provide clear and consistent disclosures to small business owners.
The 2018 legislation (Chapter 1011, Statutes of 2018) established the nation’s most extensive set of protections for small business borrowers and directed the Department to adopt regulations implementing the disclosure requirements.
In September, the Department invited the public to comment on the substance and form of the required disclosures. Following review of comments received from stakeholders, final draft regulations will be prepared for adoption through the rulemaking process. An Initial Statement of Reasons is also posted to the DFPI website.
Comments may be emailed to email@example.com
Some Escrow Reports Due Oct. 13
Each escrow agent licensee is required to submit to the Commissioner of the DFPI an annual report prepared by an independent certified public accountant or an independent public accountant (Financial Code section 17406) within 105 days after the close of the escrow agent’s fiscal year. The annual report includes audited financial statements and required supplemental information.
If your fiscal year ended on June 30, your annual report is due Oct. 13. Please have your CPA email your report to ESCAnnualReportFiling@dfpi.ca.
Penalties for failure to file the annual report by the due date or to include required information are $100 per day for the first five days a report is late and $500 per day thereafter (Financial Code section 17408). Failure to file a report or to include any required information may also result in the suspension or revocation of an escrow agent’s license and/or prompt an immediate examination (Financial Code section 17602.5).
Commercial Bank Activity
New Enterprise Bank
Proposed location: 3945 Freedom Circle, Santa Clara
Correspondent: Alan Rosen
Duane Morris LLP, 865 S. Figueroa Street, Suite 3100, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Acquisition of Control
1st Capital Bancorp to acquire control of 1st Capital Bank
Premium Finance Company Activity
New Premium Finance Company
Premise Premium Finance Co.
660 Newport Center Drive, Newport Beach
Foreign (Other Nation) Bank Activity
26 O’Farrell Street, San Francisco (Representative Office)
ICICI Bank Limited
Sunnyvale (Representative Office)
Money Transmitter Activity
New Money Transmitter
Airwallex US, LLC
Acquisition of Control
2020 Maxitransfers Trust to acquire control of Maxitransfers Corporation
WorldRemit Corp., to acquire control of Chime Inc.
MANUEL P. ALVAREZ • Commissioner of Financial Protection and Innovation
The October 2020 Monthly Bulletin covers the month ended September 30, 2020.
It is issued pursuant to Financial Code section 376.
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