Banking & Finance

Banks seek Congress’ help to block fintech path to ‘industrial’ charters
Industry group expects efforts to have bipartisan support on Hill

A bank industry group accuses financial technology firms like payment processor Square Inc. of trying to exploit a banking law loophole. (Courtesy Shutterstock)

A bank industry group is lobbying Congress to block financial technology firms, such as online lender Social Finance Inc. and payment processor Square Inc., from obtaining an obscure form of a state bank charter that would let them operate nationally with little federal supervision.

The Independent Community Bankers of America last week distributed a policy paper around Washington calling for an immediate moratorium on providing federal deposit insurance to industrial loan companies, or ILCs, which are chartered by only a few states — most notably Utah.

Regulators warn Congress not to pre-empt state fintech rules
“Investor protections must not be diminished at the state or federal levels”

The North American Securities Administrators Association is calling on lawmakers to be cautious when implementing fintech laws. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

State securities regulators are concerned Congress could pre-empt state laws governing financial technology such as blockchain and cryptocurrency that are designed to protect consumers.

The North American Securities Administrators Association on Wednesday issued its legislative priorities for the 116th Congress, calling on lawmakers to be cautious when implementing fintech laws.

Democrats hammer CFPB head for being soft on lenders
Democrats grilled Director Kathy Kraninger and GOP lawmakers for supporting recent agency changes

Kathy Kraninger, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is seen before testifying at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in the Rayburn Building on March 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats sharply criticized on Thursday the head of America’s consumer finance watchdog for decisions Republicans say are entirely under her purview.

In the first Consumer Financial Protection Bureau oversight hearing, Financial Services Democrats repeatedly hammered Director Kathy Kraninger and GOP lawmakers for supporting recent changes at the agency.

Financial transaction tax will be a test for Democratic presidential candidates
Questions will be asked about whether others will join New York’s Gillibrand in support

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio, D-Ore., is leading the House version of a proposed trading tax. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The many congressional Democrats making runs for the White House will have to decide whether to support a new tax on traders and investors.

With Democrats on both sides of the Capitol unveiling proposed taxes on financial transactions that they say would target high frequency trading while providing new revenue for Democratic priorities, the issue could put several candidates on the record. 

European regulatory chief wants new cryptocurrency rules
Aim is to prevent ‘substantial risk’ to consumers

The chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority reportedly supports applying financial instrument regulation to cryptocurrencies. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images file photo)

The chairman of the European Securities and Markets Authority has indicated he supports applying financial instrument regulation to assets such as bitcoin to help protect investors.

Without new rules, Steven Maijoor said, digital assets will likely fall outside of the regulation of Europe’s securities laws.

Schumer wants to know how many journalists will be fired if hedge fund takes over USA TODAY
Senate minority leader has written to president of Alden Global Capital about bidding for Gannett

Senate Minority Leader Chharles E. Schumer is concerned about a hedge fund's attempt to take control of USA TODAY's parent company. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer wants to know how many journalists a hedge fund intends to lay off if it manages to take control of the publisher of USA TODAY.

The attempt by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital to take control of the newspaper publisher Gannett has the attention of the New York senator, who is expressing concern about the ability of the public to have access to local news.

Treasury official doubts fintech needs payment system overhaul
Analysis appeared in blog

Matt Swinehart, a senior counsel at the Treasury Department, says a massive “regulatory rethink” for financial technology won’t be required. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A senior Treasury Department official is challenging the idea that rapidly evolving financial technology will require a sweeping overhaul of rules governing payment services and the electronic transfer of funds between consumers, banks, merchants and others.

In a recent analysis, Matt Swinehart, a senior counsel at Treasury, said a massive “regulatory rethink” of payment services won’t be required because many rules and standards governing payments are what he called technology neutral. The analysis appeared on a blog about the intersection between financial technology and government policy. Swinehart and the Treasury Department declined an interview request about his statements.

Green New Deal: Some Democrats on the fence
Top Democrats who would oversee legislation in the House are reluctant to endorse plan that would remake economy

Democratic Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have championed the Green New Deal on Capitol Hill. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A resolution outlining the goals of the Green New Deal capped off its first week of a somewhat messy rollout with mixed reviews, even from typically Democratic strongholds like labor unions.

In the House, the top two Democrats who would oversee any legislation that comes out of the plan have remained reluctant to fully endorse it, stopping at lauding the goals and the enthusiasm behind them. And Republicans quickly branded the Green New Deal as an extreme, socialist plan with unrealistic proposals to eliminate air travel and cows.

Elizabeth Warren keeps pressure on big banks to help workers during government shutdowns
In letters shared first with Roll Call, Warren said inquiries could be particularly important if ‘agreement in principle’ falls apart

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping up the pressure on big banks. (Sarah Silbiger/CQ Roll Call file photo)

As lawmakers work to avoid another partial government shutdown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is keeping up pressure on big banks to make sure they help federal employees and contractors, especially if the “agreement in principle” falls apart.

“We are now less than a week away from the February 15 deadline to fund the government, and President Trump has threatened to drag the American public through a shutdown for a second time,” the Democrat from Massachusetts wrote in a series of new letters shared first with Roll Call.

SEC seeks private vendors to translate blockchain data
The commission wants to hire a private vendor to gather data from the “most widely used blockchain ledgers” to help it police digital assets

Reps. David Kustoff, R-Tenn., and Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y., talk before a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled “Oversight of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission” on June 21, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to hire a private vendor to gather data from the “most widely used blockchain ledgers” to help it police digital assets.

The agency didn’t name the ledgers but its requirement that they be widely used suggests the SEC would include those underpinning cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ethereum.