Daily Dash: US Regulator Sounds Alarm Over BNPL

December 8, 2023
A US regulator has provided new guidance for payment service providers (PSPs) who offer buy now, pay later (BNPL) loans, while the Singaporean watchdog has published a new consultation on its new information sharing platform.

OCC Outlines BNPL Expectations For US Banks 

The US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has issued a new bulletin to assist banks in effectively managing risks associated with buy now, pay later (BNPL) lending and in responsibly offering BNPL loans. 

The financial regulator has said that it expects banks that offer BNPL loans to do so in a manner that is "safe and sound, provides fair access to financial services, supports fair treatment of consumers, and complies with applicable laws and regulations". 

In its guidance, the OCC has said that banks should establish policies and procedures for BNPL lending that address loan terms, underwriting criteria, methodologies to assess repayment capacity, fees, charge-offs, and credit loss allowance considerations. 

BNPL underwriting criteria and repayment assessment methodologies, meanwhile, should provide reasonable assurance that the borrower can repay the debt, the OCC advised. 

The bulletin also advises that comprehensive information should be sent to credit bureaus promptly in compliance with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and its implementing regulations would help mitigate credit risk associated with BNPL loans. 

Singapore Consults On Financial Institutions' Information Sharing 

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has invited market participants to respond to its proposed regulations that set out the scope of relevant parties whose information may be shared via the new Collaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing (ML/TF) Information & Cases (COSMIC) platform. 

Stakeholders have until the end of the day, January 5, to respond. 

The COSMIC platform was co-created by MAS and six major commercial banks in Singapore, namely, DBS, OCBC, UOB, SCB, Citibank, and HSBC platform. It will allow participating financial institutions to share information for anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing purposes.

'Progress' - Elon Musk Welcomes New Money Transmitter Licences At X

X, formerly known as Twitter, has announced that it now holds money transmitter licences in ten US states, rising from seven states at Vixio’s last count in September.

The company announced its latest licence acquisitions via X News Daily, a proprietary news account on the X platform. Following the announcement, X CEO Elon Musk replied with a single word: “Progress.”

It is still unclear what X is planning to do with its newly acquired payments licences. In October last year, prior to closing his acquisition of the company, Musk said: “Buying Twitter is an accelerant to creating X, the everything app.”

He later elaborated on this concept by drawing parallels with WeChat, China’s Tencent-owned instant messaging and payments platform.

“We don’t even have an app that’s as good as WeChat in China,” he said last year. “In China you can live on WeChat. You can do payments, you can do everything.”

In April, Musk said he wants X to become “so useful that you find it essential to look after your life”.

UK’s RationalFX Grinds To A Halt, Enters Special Administration

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed that RationalFX, a foreign exchange and cross-border transfer service, has entered into special administration.

The directors of RationalFX concluded that the firm was insolvent and applied to court for a special administration order.

As per an FCA restriction order, RationalFX must not, without prior written consent, engage in any further payment services, as defined by Regulation 2(1) of the Payment Services Regulations 2017.

Ed Boyle and Kristina Kicks, managing directors at debt restructuring firm Interpath Ltd, have been appointed as joint special administrators (JSAs).

The JSAs are responsible for managing customer claims against the firm and distributing funds back to customers where possible. Affected customers are advised to contact the JSAs directly.

Australian Regulators Sign MoU On 'Proactive' Information Sharing

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote information sharing between the two agencies.

The MoU, which is non-legally binding, sets out the agreed basis for coordination and cooperation between AFCA and ASIC.

The two agencies said the MoU reflects their intention to maintain a “proactive, open and collaborative relationship” to “perform their respective functions effectively”.

Among the terms of the agreement, the two agencies will consult with one another before taking mutually relevant enforcement action; collaborate on improving regulatory policy and outcomes; and will seek industry input on policy development.

BNP Paribas Set To Launch Request To Pay Solution

BNP Paribas has partnered with France-based software provider StreamMind to jointly develop an advanced SEPA Request-to-Pay solution.

Combined with upcoming e-invoicing regulations, the French banking giant said SEPA Request-to-Pay will bring a unique end-to-end solution for corporate clients and will revolutionise payment experiences across the European market.

StreamMind CEO Nicolas Muhadri described the partnership as "a great privilege" for the Paris-based software firm. 

He also said the SEPA Request-to-Pay service will provide the “digital bridge” between invoicing and payment on an “international scale". 

Bank Of England, RBI Sign MoU On Cooperation In Clearing Activities

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Bank of England (BoE) have signedmemorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation and exchange of information in relation to the Clearing Corporation of India Limited (CCIL).

In a statement, the two central banks said the MoU establishes a framework for the BoE to “place reliance” on the RBI’s regulatory and supervisory activities while safeguarding UK financial stability.

The MoU also demonstrates the importance of cross-border cooperation to facilitate international clearing activities.

Finally, the MoU will enable the BoE to assess the application of CCIL for recognition as a third-country central counterparty (CCP), which is a prerequisite for UK-based banks to clear transactions through CCIL.

Curve Launches Wearable Payments Tech Campaign Throughout London

UK fintech Curve has announced the launch of a new charm offensive throughout London to promote its all-in-one wearables payments solutions.

Curve is a digital wallet app that allows consumers to store all of their cards in a “single form factor”, be it a virtual Curve card or a wearable solution.

Partnering with tech providers Twinn, Swatch, Tap2Pay and Tapster, the Curve digital wallet can be embedded into rings, bracelets, watches and even fingernails.

“Most wearables are struggling to get support from banks,” said Shachar Bialick, CEO and founder of Curve. “But with Curve, customers can now integrate all of their cards into any form factor easily, quickly and securely.”

In September, Curve secured an additional £133m in a series C funding round, bringing its total equity investment to date to £205m.

Thailand, Hong Kong Instant Payments Tie-Up Goes Live

The central banks of Thailand and Hong Kong have announced that a QR code linkage between their respective instant payments systems is now live.

Travellers from Thailand and Hong Kong can now make retail payments by scanning the Thai PromptPay QR Code or the Hong Kong Faster Payment System (FPS) QR code when displayed by merchants.

The central banks said that consumers will benefit from an efficient cross-border payment option and merchants will benefit from instant settlements.

From Hong Kong, there are seven participating banks and two non-bank stored value facilities offering the service, and from Thailand there are three commercial banks

Sethaput Suthiwartnarueput, governor of the Bank of Thailand (BOT), said the collaboration is an “important milestone” and will be rapidly adopted by the 1.5m tourists that travel between the two countries annually.

Dutch Banking Association Publishes New Industry Standard On PEPs

The Dutch Banking Association (NVB) has published new standards on politically exposed persons (PEPs) and source of funds to be implemented by members of the association.

The NVB said the standards will help members come to a clearer understanding of the risks that PEPs pose to their business.

For example, banks will focus less on “unnecessary” in-depth customer research and more on quantifiable risks of PEPs. This will be achieved through updated customer surveys.

The NVB said the new standards are the product of collaboration between the association, the Dutch central bank and the Ministry of Finance.

Westpac Mobile, Online Banking Back Online After Showing Zero Balances

Australia's Westpac bank has announced that its mobile and online banking services have been restored following an outage on Monday (December 4) that left some customers seeing zero balances.

In a statement, Westpac chief information officer Scott Collary said the outage had been caused by a “routine technology update”.

“Our technicians identified the problem and worked through the night to fix it,” he said. “Payments via cards and digital wallets, scheduled payments and ATMs were not affected by the issue.”

Although some customers saw their balance temporarily disappear, others were unable to view or access their Westpac accounts online.

“We recognise this caused disruption for our customers and apologise for the experience,” said Collary. “We know how important it is to have 24/7 access to online banking.”

New Swift Launch Brings Instant Cross-Border Payments To Europe

Swift has announced the launch of a new solution that will allow instant cross-border payments destined for Europe to be processed 24/7, arriving with the beneficiary “in seconds”.

The rails are provided by Swift’s interlinking of domestic instant payment systems, with full transparency and end-to-end tracking from Swift.

Meanwhile, the funds transfer uses the European Payment Council’s (EPC) One-Leg-Out Instant Credit Transfer scheme (OCT Inst), which went live last week.

OCT Inst enables payments to and from Europe to be processed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Interlinking market infrastructures in this way is a key method by which to achieve the G20’s goals for cross-border payments around speed, transparency, cost and access,” said Swift.

Revolut Looks To Offload Auditor As Banking Licence Remains In Limbo

UK neobank Revolut is mulling a change of auditor after doubts were raised about certain items in its 2021 financial statements.

According to the Evening Standard, Revolut may cut ties with BDO, its current auditor, after it questioned the “completeness and occurrence” of £477m of revenue in 2021.

The disputed £477m makes up about three-quarters of Revolut’s total revenue for 2021, and is suspected to be among the reasons that Revolut’s UK banking licence application remains in limbo.

However, sources told the Standard that Revolut will stick with BDO until the end of the 2023 financial year.

New Argentina QR Code Rules Hit By Double Dose Of Delays

The Central Bank of Argentina (BCRA) has confirmed that the implementation of a new rule on interoperable QR code payments will be delayed for a second time.

In a statement, the BCRA said the rule will now come into effect on February 1, 2024.

The move follows a previous extension, covered by Vixio here, which pushed the deadline for compliance from early September into mid-October.

The rule requires merchants who accept credit card payments via QR code must accept payments made using any interoperable digital wallet, regardless of the brand of the QR code.

Acquirers and payment facilitators will also be prohibited from charging merchants different fees or applying different terms based on the brand of wallet used to make a payment.

If an acquirer or payment facilitator also accepts money transfers, they must offer customers a single QR code that covers all payment methods.

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