December 6, 2017

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The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and Access Now, Inc. ("Access Now") have reached a mutually - agreeable settlement whereby:
a) as a reaffirmation of its ongoing commitment to encouraging accessibility for visually-impaired persons, ICBA is adopting and distributing to its current members a Restatement of Voluntary Access Principles referenced below that are acceptable to Access Now; and
b) Access Now, on behalf of itself and its members, released ICBA's members and banks eligible for membership with assets of $50 billion or less from all claims related to the provision of Electronic Banking Services such as any electronic information technology, including website, mobile apps, accessibility, online banking, mobile banking, ATM services, and telephone banking.
Access Now and its members, through its counsel Carlson Lynch Sweet Kilpela and KamberLaw LLC, had sent letters to banks that are members of ICBA offering to settle purported claims against such banks for alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The legislative year might be winding down, but leadership changes continue at federal agencies.
Joseph Otting is the new Comptroller of the Currency. He took this reigns this week, following confirmation by the U.S. Senate on a 54-43 vote. Otting succeeds Keith Noreika, who had been serving in an acting capacity following the resignation of Thomas Curry.
Mike Mulvaney is Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He succeeds Richard Courdray, who resigned as Director last week. Mulvaney's stewardship was challenged in the courts, but a federal district judge ruled that the President could make this appointment. Mulvaney is Director of the Office of Management and Budget. And he said he will split his time between OMB and the CFPB until the President nominates and the Senate confirms a new Director.
Marvin Goodfriend has been nominated by the President to become a Governor on the Federal Reserve Board. Goodfriend, a former Fed economist and current professor at the Carnegie Mellon University, will need to be confirmed by the Senate. There are currently three vacancies on the Fed Board, or four if you include a vacancy Janet Yellen will create when she ends her Fed tenure in February 2018. Federal statute requires at least one Fed Governor to have supervisory or industry experience in community banking; CSBS is responsible for this provision in law.
The White House announced that it will nominate Jelena McWilliams to become the next chair of the FDIC. McWilliams is currently chief legal officer at Fifth Third Bancorp. If confirmed, she will replace Martin Gruenberg, whose term as chair recently ended. 
The outlook is improving for community banks, according to the fifth annual CSBS and Federal Reserve survey . The recently released report, which surveyed 661 community banks in 37 states, showed a transition to some stability in 2016 from previous years. Banks remained a strong lending source in their communities, bolstered by strong relationships. Compliance costs continued to grow but showed signs of ebbing.
As financial innovation forges ahead and digital currencies like bitcoin continue to make headlines, Federal Reserve Vice Chairman for Supervision Randal Quarles emphasized the need to balance innovation with financial stability. In remarks at a fintech conference in Washington, D.C., Quarles raised concerns about the effects cryptocurrencies could have on safety and soundness.
"While these digital currencies may not pose major concerns at their current levels of use, more serious financial stability issues may result if they achieve wide-scale usage," Quarles said. "Without the backing of a central bank asset and institutional support, it is not clear how a private digital currency at the center of a large-scale payment system would behave, or whether the payment system would be able to function, in times of stress."
Quarles noted that regulators and policymakers should exercise caution when considering whether to adopt a centralized digital currency system in the U.S. A government-backed cryptocurrency could introduce new money laundering, cyber and other risks into the financial system, and disrupt the private-sector, he explained. "For example, if payment activity radically shifted from using deposits at financial institutions to using a central-bank-issued digital currency, deposits could significantly shrink and potentially disrupt financial institutions' ability to make loans that spur economic activity."
First Deputy Comptroller of the Currency Keith A. Noreika discussed whether bank holding companies are obsolete, during a forum hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, entitled "Is the Bank Holding Company Act obsolete?" During his keynote address, Mr. Noreika explored how banking holding companies have evolved in the United States and their advantages and disadvantages for banking companies today.
FDIC Releases Draft Strategic Plan for Comment         
The FDIC released an updated draft of its strategic plan for 2018-2022 for public comment. Comments are due on Dec. 15. The agency's strategic goals include ensuring that insured depositors are protected from loss without recourse to taxpayer funding, that FDIC-supervised banks are safe and sound, that consumers' rights are protected and banks are investing in their communities, that large banks can be resolved in an orderly manner in the event of bankruptcy and that resolutions are orderly and receiverships are managed effectively.
The FDIC noted that it will continue to face challenges from shifting economic conditions that are likely to affect the performance of individual banks and the financial system over the next four years. In addition to the economy, the FDIC will also continue to focus on several priority issues including the future of community banking, managing risks posed by large and complex financial institutions, cybersecurity and information technology, economic inclusion and workforce development.
Fannie, Freddie Transfer $60 Billion in Credit Risk Through Q2 2017
Since the Federal Housing Finance Agency launched a credit risk transfer program for GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2013, the enterprises have transferred $60.6 billion in credit risk to private investors, amounting to about 3.3 percent of $1.8 trillion in unpaid principal balance, according to the FHFA. In the second quarter of 2017, the GSEs transferred about $6.4 billion worth of credit risk. Transfers include debt issuances, insurance and reinsurance transactions, senior-subordinate securitizations and several kinds of lender-collateralized recourse transactions.
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