Daily Dash: Discover Settles Over Compliance Mishap

October 4, 2023
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Discover has settled with a US regulator following a consumer protection investigation, and the Bank of Lithuania has revoked the licence of another electronic money institution (EMI).

Discover Settles Consumer Protection Probe With US Agency

In a new regulatory filing, Discover has said that on September 25 it settled an investigation with the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) concerning consumer protection issues.

As reported by Vixio, Discover is in the midst of a significant corporate governance shake-up after CEO and president Roger Hochschild abruptly left the company on August 14.

Subsequently, C-suite executives at Discover acknowledged that the company is now “paying the price” for historically under-investing in compliance and is taking steps to ensure that it “doesn’t put profits before compliance excellence”.

The filing now shows that Discover has agreed with the FDIC on the terms of ending a probe into consumer protection issues and that the firm did so without receiving a fine.

The consent order requires Discover to improve its consumer compliance management system and enhance related corporate governance and enterprise risk management practices.

It also requires the company to ensure that its board has more oversight over consumer protection matters.

Bank Of Lithuania Revokes E-Money Licence

The Bank of Lithuania has revoked the licence of Rebellion Fintech Services and imposed a fine on the firm. 

The firm has had its licence revoked due to the fact that it did not begin operations for more than a year after receiving it, according to the central bank. 

Further, Bank of Lithuania has accused the fintech firm of being “not properly prepared to provide financial services”. 

In addition, the company’s risk management strategy did not comply with the law. It incorrectly calculated the size of its equity capital requirements, and it failed to comply with money laundering regulations.

Rebellion also provided the Bank of Lithuania with incorrect information about the balances of electronic money holders, payment service users' funds and the institution's own funds, and it provided untrue information about customers and payment transactions.

For this, the Bank of Lithuania sanctioned the firm with a €10,000 fine. 

Revolut Under Scrutiny In UK Over Failing To Report Suspicious Activities - FT

Revolut is in talks with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over alleged failures to release money from accounts flagged by the National Crime Agency (NCA) as suspicious, the Financial Times (FT) has reported.

According to the FT, Revolut reported the failures to the regulators and claims that it released £500,000 in suspicious transactions. However, two people familiar with the situation told the FT that around £1.7m was released from the flagged accounts.

The rumours come amid Revolut’s bid to secure a UK banking licence, which after two years is still yet to show results. In May, CEO Nikolay Storonsky accused UK regulators of “extreme bureaucracy”, leaving the company waiting for months for emails and letters to arrive.

However, according to the FT, the delay has more to do with concerns over the company’s controls against financial crime and money laundering, and a flaw in its payments system that allowed US criminals to steal more than $20m.

Dutch Competition Watchdog Rejects Apple's Objections Against Dating App Fine

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has rejected objections from Apple against a €50m penalty for abuse of its dominant position within the dating app market.

In August 2021, the ACM found that Apple had imposed unreasonable conditions on dating apps by prohibiting the use of third-party payment options for in-app purchases.

Apple has since changed its in-app payment policies to allow third parties to offer their services, but continues to object to the €50m penalty, which ran up over a ten-week period in 2021.

As of this week, the ACM noted that its decision declaring Apple’s objections “unfounded” may be appealed by Apple at the District Court of Rotterdam.

Apple Must Face US Tap-To-Pay Suit

A California court has said that it will hear an antitrust case accusing Apple of illegally restricting the use of near-field communication (NFC) technology on its phones.

In July last year, as reported by Vixio, a group of card issuers sued the iPhone maker alleging that they pay “supracompetitive” issuer-transaction fees on purchases made with Apple Pay because Apple prohibits rival mobile wallets from using the NFC chip on its devices.

The complaint claimed that Apple unlawfully tied Apple Pay to its iPhones and other devices and established a monopoly via the restriction and not by offering a better product. 

Apple allows the use of NFC for services other than payments, for example, for scanning a toy to connect it with a video game, and Google makes its NFC technology available to competing wallets such as Samsung Pay.

The card issuers also claimed anti-competitive harm due to the excessive fees Apple charged when its wallet was used to pay.

Apple asked the court to dismiss the claim but the judge said the plaintiffs “plausibly alleged” attempted anti-competitive monopolisation and that Apple Pay charges “arbitrary and inflated” fees to issuers.

At the same time, the court denied the move ahead with a tying claim, agreeing with Apple that the purchase of iOS devices is not conditional on the use of Apple Pay

“There is no tie because iOS device consumers are not required to use Apple Pay and because Apple Pay is free to consumers,” according to the document seen by Vixio.

Regulators have crossed swords with Apple over the bigtech’s restriction of NFC technology several times in recent years.

The US Department of Commerce raised serious concerns about the NFC restrictions in February, which was followed by further warnings from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in September.

Apple is also subject to antitrust scrutiny in the EU, which preliminarily found in May 2022 that the NFC restrictions breach the law.

It Is Time For An 'Enlightenment' On Financial Inclusion, Says UK Regulator

Nikhil Rathi, CEO of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has delivered a speech setting out the regulator’s aims for financial inclusion. 

“Financial inclusion matters to the FCA, deeply,” said Rathi, despite agreeing with the government’s decision not to make it a statutory obligation for the regulator. 

Among the issues raised by Rathi was the unbanked, who he referred to as the “ultimate example” of financial exclusion.

“We will be doing more to understand what barriers remain in place for these people, including why over half of those without accounts say they don’t want or need them, and how to bridge what clearly points to a service and trust gap,” said Rathi.

He added that the FCA will look at whether the processes for accessing basic bank accounts are working as they should be.

Rathi also said that the regulator “stands ready” to regulate buy now, pay later (BNPL) services. 

“The rise in the appeal of BNPL products and payday loans is unsurprising,” he said. 

Without new legislation from the government, Rathi said the FCA has instead focused on resolving unfair and unclear terms in the contracts of BNPL firms such as Klarna and Clearpay. 

Mastercard Fingerprint Payments Go Live With Mercedes Pay+

Mercedes-Benz has partnered with Mastercard to introduce embedded in-car payments at the point of sale (POS).

In Germany, where the feature is now live, customers can use an in-car fingerprint sensor to make payments at more than 3,600 service stations in Germany.

Mercedes-Benz is the world's first automaker to integrate Mastercard Secure Card on File for Commerce Platforms technology for online payments into its vehicles.

This is in addition to Visa’s Delegated Authentication and the Visa Cloud Token Framework, which has been live on Mercedes pay+ since the service was launched in Germany in March this year.

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