Bills on Mobile Banking, Thrift Lending Passed by House

By Jeff Bater

Measures that would promote mobile banking and give thrifts greater flexibility to make consumer and small-business loans were passed by the House Jan. 29.

The bills are part of a package of financial services legislation considered under the suspension of the rules. One of the measures passed by voice vote, H.R. 1457, would allow consumers to open a bank account online with a scanned copy of a driver’s license.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.), creates a national standard authorizing banks to scan and retain information from driver’s licenses when a consumer makes a request through a website or mobile device to open an account.

Most states permit mobile banking applications to copy licenses for verifying a customer’s identification, but a small number do not and the House bill would preempt the conflicting state laws.

Helping the Unbanked

Tipton said his bill, known as the MOBILE Act, could help the estimated 67 million unbanked or underbanked people in the U.S. access financial services from mobile devices.

The Conference of State Bank Supervisors, a group representing state bank regulators, backs efforts by banks “to innovate in a safe and sound manner to reach unbanked and underbanked consumers, especially in remote areas where the MOBILE Act would have the greatest impact,” it said in a statement.

H.R. 1457 is similar to a provision in a bipartisan Senate bill ( S. 2155) designed to bring regulatory relief to community and regional banks.

Thrifts, Living Wills

The House also passed a bill by voice vote that would give thrifts more flexibility to make business and consumer loans without having to register as a national bank.

H.R. 1426, sponsored by Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), would create a new entity, known as a covered savings association, that could operate with some of the same privileges as a national bank, but wouldn’t have to obtain a national bank charter. Similar language appears in S. 2155.

The House was expected to vote late Jan. 29 on a bill that would allow banks to submit living wills less frequently. H.R. 4292, sponsored by Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), restricts the Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from requiring the Dodd-Frank resolution plans more frequently than every two years.

The House Financial Services Committee approved the bill unanimously in November. The proposal is also a provision in the Financial CHOICE Act ( H.R. 10), a Dodd-Frank overhaul bill approved by the House last June without Democratic support.

Living wills require banks to map out how they would be wound down through the bankruptcy process without requiring a government bailout or disrupting financial stability.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Bater in Washington at jbater@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at mferullo@bloomberglaw.com

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