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09/18/2020

Tech company settles liability for apparent OFAC violations

OFAC has announced an $894,111 settlement with Comtech Telecommunications Corp., based in Melville, New York, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Comtech EF Data Corp., headquartered in Tempe, Arizona for four apparent violations of the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations.

Between June 2014 and October 2015, Comtech, through its subsidiary EF Data, indirectly exported warrantied satellite equipment and facilitated services and training to a government-owned entity in Sudan in apparent violation of the SSR. OFAC determined that Comtech voluntarily disclosed the apparent violations and that the apparent violations constituted an egregious case.

08/19/2020

FHA releasing new tool for lenders

The Federal Housing Administration has announced the upcoming release of its FHA Catalyst: Electronic Appraisal Delivery module on the FHA Catalyst Platform. The new module will allow lenders to electronically submit, track, and manage single family property appraisals. FHA-approved lenders may begin using the FHA Catalyst: Electronic Appraisal Delivery module beginning September 4, 2020. FHA encourages lenders to request access to the module for their users as soon as possible by contacting the FHA Resource Center by emailing answers[at]hud.gov or by calling 1-800-Call FHA (1-800-225-5342).

08/17/2020

Federal Reserve updates fingerprinting process for applications

The Federal Reserve Board's Supervision and Regulation Letter SR 20-20, issued Friday, describes its new process to facilitate the electronic collection and transmission of fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in connection with background investigations for applications involving changes to the ownership and/or composition of the board of directors or executive management of supervised financial institutions.

The Federal Reserve will continue to request from other regulatory and investigative agencies background information about an individual or company involved in applications through the name check process. Since 2003, the Federal Reserve's background investigation process has included an FBI criminal history check through the submission of fingerprints. The Federal Reserve recently started using a third-party vendor to facilitate the electronic collection and transmission of fingerprints to the FBI. Electronic fingerprinting is a more efficient collection method than the previous card and ink process. Benefits associated with the new process include faster fingerprint processing time, cost savings, and reduced staff burden. In addition, applicants will benefit from a significantly increased number of fingerprint collection sites, and improved scheduling flexibility.

08/14/2020

Fed reports on opportunities and risks of central bank digital currencies

The Federal Reserve on Thursday highlighted the research and experimentation undertaken to enhance its understanding of the opportunities and risks associated with central bank digital currencies. The initiatives complement a broad set of payments-related innovation projects currently underway within the Federal Reserve System.

In remarks at Federal Reserve Board/Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco's Innovation Office Hours, Board Governor Lael Brainard said, "Given the dollar's important role, it is essential that the Federal Reserve remain on the frontier of research and policy development regarding central bank digital currencies. Like other central banks, we are continuing to assess the opportunities and challenges of, as well as the use cases for, a digital currency, as a complement to cash and other payments options."

Technological innovations inspire new ways to think about money. Consistent with its role in promoting a safe, accessible, and efficient U.S. payment system, the Federal Reserve is engaged in ongoing research and experimentation with the latest payment technologies. The Federal Reserve Board's Technology Lab (TechLab) is expanding experimentation with technologies relevant to digital currencies and other payment innovations. The TechLab conducts hands-on research to further the Federal Reserve's understanding of payment technologies and support development of policy views. The TechLab is a multidisciplinary team composed of Board and Federal Reserve Bank staff with expertise in payments, economics, law, information technology, and computer science.

08/13/2020

Alert concerning spoofed SBA website

Homeland Security's National Cyber Awareness System has issued an alert concerning an unknown malicious cyber actor who is spoofing the Small Business Administration (SBA) COVID-19 loan relief webpage via phishing emails. These emails include a malicious link to the spoofed SBA website that the cyber actor is using for malicious re-directs and credential stealing.

The phishing emails have carried a subject line of "SBA Application - Review and Proceed." The sender is identified as "disastercustomerservice[at]sba.gov." Clicking on a link in the email takes the phishing target to a spoofed SBA webpage that asks the target to "Sign in to Your Account." The page captures the sign-in attempt and steals the target's log-in credentials.

08/07/2020

Details of new FedNow settlement service announced

The Federal Reserve Board yesterday announced details of the FedNow℠ Service, a new 24x7x365 interbank settlement service with clearing functionality to support instant payments in the United States. The features and functionality described in the accompanying Federal Register notice represent a key milestone in the FedNow Service's development and are based on input received from the public in response to the Board's 2019 request for comment.

The Federal Reserve will take a phased approach to service implementation. The first release of the FedNow Service will provide core clearing and settlement features that will support market needs and help banks manage the transition to a 24x7x365 service. Based on ongoing stakeholder engagement, additional features and service enhancements will be introduced over time. The target launch date for the service remains 2023 or 2024, with a more specific time frame to be announced after additional work is completed.

08/07/2020

U.S.-UK innovation partnership meeting

Treasury reported yesterday on Wednesday's virtual meeting of U.S. and UK participants in the countries' Financial Innovation Partnership to exchange views on topics of mutual interest. The Regulatory and Commercial Pillars of the Partnership met jointly to discuss deepening U.S.-UK ties in financial innovation. Also, the representatives of the U.S. Treasury Department and Her Majesty's Treasury chaired a discussion of the Regulatory Pillar of the FIP, engaging on topics including digital payments, operational resilience, cross-border testing of innovative financial services, and regulatory and supervisory technology.

Participants acknowledged the importance of the ongoing partnership in monitoring and analyzing trends in global financial innovation, as well as being an integral component of the U.S.-UK financial services cooperation.

07/31/2020

FinCEN Advisory on cybercrime during pandemic

Advisory FIN-2020-A005 has been issued by FinCEN to alert financial institutions to potential indicators of cybercrime and cyber-enabled crime observed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many illicit actors are engaged in fraudulent schemes that exploit vulnerabilities created by the pandemic.

The advisory contains descriptions of COVID-19-related malicious cyber activity and scams, associated financial red flag indicators, and information on reporting suspicious activity. FinCEN will continue issuing COVID-19-related information to financial institutions to help enhance their efforts to detect, prevent, and report suspected illicit activity on its website www.fincen.gov/coronavirus.

07/23/2020

OCC OKs federal bank cryptocurrency custody services

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has published an Interpretive Letter to clarify national banks' and federal savings associations' authority to provide cryptocurrency custody services for customers. The OCC concludes that providing cryptocurrency custody services, including holding unique cryptographic keys associated with cryptocurrency, is a modern form of traditional bank activities related to custody services, and that crypto custody services may extend beyond passively holding "keys."

In a press release, the OCC said that the letter "applies to national banks and federal savings associations of all sizes and is consistent with a number of states which have already authorized state banks or trust companies to provide similar functions."

07/21/2020

FDIC seeks input on standards program for tech innovation

The FDIC has issued a Request for Information seeking the public's input on the potential for a public/private standard-setting partnership and voluntary certification program to promote the efficient and effective adoption of innovative technologies at FDIC-supervised financial institutions.

Released as part of the FDiTech initiative, the Request for Information asks whether the proposed program might reduce the regulatory and operational uncertainty that may prevent financial institutions from deploying new technology or entering into partnerships with technology firms, including “fintechs.” For financial institutions that choose to use the system, a voluntary certification program could help standardize due diligence practices and reduce associated costs.

Comments will be accepted for 60 days following Federal Register publication.

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