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2024 Advocacy Priorities

Community banks are locally based and relationship-focused institutions serving the unique needs of their customers. With a time-tested business model of sound lending and conservative risk management, they are a force for stability and prosperity in their communities

Credit Unions

  • As of June, credit union acquisitions of banks account for more than 20% of all bank deals announced in 2024.

  • Credit unions are violating the limits established by Congress to justify their tax exemption.

  • Credit union acquisitions of community banks diminish tax revenues, consolidate the industry though tax subsidies, grow the publicly subsidized sector of the financial services industry, and increase the portion of the industry exempt from Community Reinvestment Act oversight.

  • Congress should hold hearings to investigate the credit union tax exemption.

  • Credit unions should not be able to use their tax subsidy to purchase taxpaying banks.

  • Congress should impose an “exit fee” on credit unions’ bank acquisitions to capture the tax revenue lost due to these transactions.

  • Applying CRA requirements to credit unions comparable to and with the same asset-size distinctions as banks and thrifts should be the standard.

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Credit Card Competition Act

  • Interchange fees directly fund transaction security and innovation as well as consumer rewards programs, features highly valued by consumers.

  • Allowing breach-prone merchants to control network routing, regardless of the issuing bank’s or consumer’s preference, will put consumer data at risk and diminish or eliminate valued consumer rewards programs.

  • Experience of Durbin Amendment Shows That Big-Box Merchants Fail to Pass on Savings. A study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond shows that since the passage of the Durbin Amendment in 2010, over 98.8 percent of merchants failed to pass these promised savings to consumers and the largest retail merchants have retained over $106 billion in interchange fees.

  • New polling from Morning Consult shows that two-thirds of American adults, both Republicans and Democrats, believe the new routing mandates would create less secure networks and would not provide savings to consumers but only to merchants.

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ACRE Act

  • ACRE provides opportunities for lower interest rates for farmers, ranchers, and rural homeowners.

  • ACRE assists those seeking to remain on the farm or ranch or acquire a home in rural communities by lowering their interest rates and therefore their loan costs.

  • ACRE offers community banks greater flexibility to work with farmers and ranchers who may have trouble servicing their debt or are YBS borrowers with little equity.

  • ACRE gives lenders a strong incentive to remain in the rural farming and housing markets, thereby boosting local economic activity and access to credit.

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Stablecoins

  • To maintain the health of the US financial system, policymakers must ensure that non-bank stablecoin issuers and other crypto-related entities do not have access to Federal Reserve master accounts or the payment system.

  • Special purpose charters or similar alternatives should not be granted to non-bank stablecoin issuers that do not fully meet the requirements of federally insured and supervised chartered banks. Also, any state chartered, non-bank payment stablecoin issuer must be regulated comparably to a state-chartered bank to adequately mitigate risks and prevent regulatory arbitrage.

CBDC

  • Congress must examine the fundamental question of what problem a CBDC is trying to solve. A CBDC would be an experiment in which the risks and costs far outweigh any potential benefits for American consumers and businesses and the broad economy.

  • A CBDC could create an outflow of deposits from community banks with a direct and adverse impact on credit availability. Depositors may prefer CBDC over bank deposits in a crisis.

  • FedNow provides many of the benefits of alternative payments rails without the risk and will accomplish many of the stated goals of a CBDC. FedNow must be given a chance to work and be evaluated in the market before a CBDC is considered.

  • Support the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act (H.R. 5403/S. 3801), which would prevent the Federal Reserve from directly issuing a U.S. CBDC to an individual.

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Safe Harbor for Legal Cannabis Banking

  • Pass the SAFER / SAFE Banking Act (S. 2860 / H.R. 2891) to create a federal safe harbor for banking legal cannabis-related businesses.

  • S. 2860 passed the Senate Banking Committee last year.

  • The SAFE Banking Act has passed the House seven times in previous Congresses.

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Trigger Leads

  • Trigger leads often result in an inundation of calls or texts to customers following a hard credit pull for a mortgage loan. This happens without their consent, resulting in increased instances of fraud and general confusion for the consumer.

  • There is strong bipartisan support to address many of the concerns regarding trigger leads. ICBA strongly supports H.R. 7297/S. 3502, the Homebuyers Privacy Protection Act, sponsored by Representatives John Rose (R-TN) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY) and Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Bill Hagerty (R-TN). The bill would limit trigger lead solicitations exclusively to mortgage applicants who provide their consent or lenders that have previously originated a mortgage for the applicant, capturing refinance activity; lenders currently servicing the mortgage; or insured depository institutions that have a current account with the applicant.

  • The CFPB has been reluctant to get involved in this issue despite their oversight of the credit reporting agencies.

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CRA

  • The $600 million and $2 billion thresholds are improvements over the current levels, but more could be done to differentiate larger community banks from the largest money center banks.
  • It is positive that banks under the small bank threshold will have the option to opt in to the new framework or continue to be evaluated under the existing small bank test.
  • Intermediate banks will be able to opt into the new community development test, or keep their current community development investment evaluation framework, but they will be required to comply with the new retail lending test. This will lead to increased complexity.
  • Large banks will have new tests for retail lending and services and community development lending and services.
  • The final rule includes a detailed list of qualifying activities and a process to get binding preapproval that a loan or investment qualifies for CRA credit which should increase ex ante certainty.
  • The new retail lending test is more complicated than the existing framework and is likely to result in a significantly greater number of community banks receiving low satisfactory or needs to improve ratings. This appears to be a deliberate policy choice by banking regulators to “raise the bar” for CRA expectations.

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Section 1071

  • Exemption: The smallest community banks will inappropriately be covered by the scope of the rule.

  • The CFPB should exclude community banks with assets of $1.3 billion or less from coverage.

  • Providing partial or full exemptions would still overwhelmingly meet the objectives of the law.

  • CRA Ratings: ICBA has asked Director Chopra to exempt banks that receive an “outstanding” or “satisfactory” CRA rating and are considered to be “small” or “intermediate” banks.

  • The Bureau has indicated a future rulemaking that will further delay compliance requirements for smaller banks that have performed well on their CRA exams.

  • Privacy: The collection and public disclosure of personal data raises also concerns about the privacy of applicants, particularly in smaller communities.

  • Community bankers are concerned for their small-business customers that are the only business of their type in their local community, such as the town dentist or auto repair shop.

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Bank Fees

  • We broadly oppose price controls and caps imposed by any regulatory agency, which only distorts market discipline and demand for delivery of products and services.

  • ICBA strongly urge policymakers to cautiously consider the consequences of any future restrictive fee related legislation and regulations, which would have a negative ripple effect on customers who rely on these services.

  • ICBA opposes any retroactive and punitive action on lawfully disclosed represented item fee practices, especially where those practices were never subject to examiner or regulatory scrutiny.

  • We remain committed to pushing back and utilizing all resources available against the harmful rulemaking and rhetoric that mischaracterizes contractually negotiated and disclosed fees as “junk fees” in any form. In doing so, we will call for appropriate oversight, hearings, and other measures to hold the bureau accountable to comply with its mandate and governing rules.

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Mergers and Acquistions

  • The banking agencies should take a unified approach to the Bank Merger Act, rather than each agency proposing its own sets of guidelines interpreting the same statutory factors.

  • The FDIC should adopt measures to support clarity and predictability, reduce existing burdens on community banks, and provide expedited approvals for small community bank mergers.

  • The FDIC should expand the scope of information to realistically reflect the bank’s “true” competition and permit a small bank de minimis exception.

  • Institutions with more than $100 billion in total consolidated assets should be subject to heightened scrutiny.

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Beneficial Ownership

Community banks should not be obligated to collect BOI that has also been directly submitted to FinCEN by a reporting company.

Key Talking Points:

  • Since reporting companies are now required to submit BOI directly to FinCEN upon company formation, FIs should not also be required to collect the same BOI.

  • ICBA strongly urges against any rulemaking that will require FIs to train, notify, or execute any requirements between reporting companies and FinCEN.

  • It is estimated that more than 32 million small businesses would need to register their BOI with FinCEN in 2024.

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Section 1033

  • The CFPB’s proposal to require all banks who offer online banking to create and maintain a developer portal places an undue burden on community banks who will be dependent on their core providers and other third-party companies to create the technological tools that enable compliance.
  • The Bureau’s tiered implementation period, which gives banks below $850 million in assets up to 4 years to comply is a step in the right direction, but an exemption for the smallest banks would be more appropriate. An exemption would allow for a market-based solution – if customers of small banks demanded to share their data with third-parties, small banks could build a developer portal in order to be more competitive and retain their customers. However, if that demand did not materialize, small banks would be spared the compliance cost.
  • Banks should be permitted to charge reasonable fees to third parties who access customer data in order to offset the cost of maintaining a developer portal. Ultimately, these third-party companies will be the beneficiaries of access to this data and should logically bear the cost of the rule.
  • The CFPB is right to require authorized third parties to implement Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (“GLBA”) like data security standards. GLBA’s information security safeguards and data privacy provisions provide a secure framework which community bank customers have come to expect from their financial products.
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Deposit Insurance

  • ICBA opposes uniform increases to base deposit insurance assessments, and encourages the FDIC to consider developing a systemic risk premium to ensure large banks pay for the outsized risk they pose to the DIF.

  • ICBA encourages the FDIC to revisit increases to base deposit insurance assessment increases once the DIF reaches its statutory minimum reserve ratio of 1.35%.

  • ICBA applauds the FDIC for recognizing that community banks were not the primary beneficiaries of the recent systemic risk determinations for SVB and SBNY and for finalizing an exemption for community banks with fewer than $5 billion in uninsured deposits.

  • ICBA will review any future proposals to reform the deposit insurance framework to identify and evaluate implications for community banks, including specifics about the costs, length, and voluntariness of any proposed increases or adjustments to deposit insurance coverage.

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Interchange

ICBA has deep concerns about the impact of the Federal Reserve proposed rule to reduce interchange rates at banks with at least $10 billion in assets. The Durbin amendment, as codified in Reg II, is a highly unsuccessful policy, amounting to government price controls that choose winners and losers among businesses. Government price controls on debit card interchange have caused significant economic harm to community banks and the communities they serve, and further expanding these policies would only compound that harm.

Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Andy Barr (R-Ky.) recently asked the Government Accountability Office to study the potential impact of the Fed’s proposal on the availability of low-cost banking products and banking services for low-income consumers.

Rep. Luetkemeyer and Sen. Budd (R-N.C) have separately introduced ICBA-supported legislation, the Secure Payments Act of 2024, directing the Fed to stop and study its proposed changes before finalizing the rule.

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