April 1, 2021
The Gateway For Payroll Data
Loan Sharks Are the Product of Credit Restrictions

Recently, headlines across the country told of a modern-day loan shark by the name of Jonathan Braun who had received a pardoned in President Trump’s last day in office.

It seems that, while free on bail after pleading guilty to drug charges but before reporting to prison, he became involved in a new enterprise, helping run an operation that made loans to small-business owners at exorbitantly high interest rates and routinely threatened people who had trouble repaying. The threats were said to have included the likes of “I know where you live,” “I will take your daughters from you,” and “Be thankful you’re not in New York, because your family would find you floating in the Hudson.”

For many readers, what is probably most shocking about this story is not the pardon but the fact that there would even be an opportunity for a loan shark like Braun to exist. Yet when people become desperate and good credit alternatives are not available, people like Braun continue thrive and profit. Indeed, this episode underscores the need for options for people in varying degrees of creditworthiness and in nontraditional financial circumstances.

Paving the Payments Future
Walgreens to launch digital bank accounts this year

Walgreens plans to launch bank accounts that will be available to customers online and at 9,000 of its retail stores in the second half of 2021, the company announced Tuesday.

The pharmacy chain said the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.-insured accounts will be available through a partnership with MetaBank. The retailer said it will use payments technology company InComm Payments’ Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform, while Mastercard will issue debit cards for the accounts.

Walgreens said the agreement is part of its "alternative profit strategy" — one element in a broader initiative to launch new financial products and services that offer differentiated services and benefits to its customers.

Tax Day for individuals extended to May 17:
Treasury, IRS extend filing and payment deadline

WASHINGTON — The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service announced today that the federal income tax filing due date for individuals for the 2020 tax year will be automatically extended from April 15, 2021, to May 17, 2021. The IRS will be providing formal guidance in the coming days.

IRS to recalculate taxes on unemployment benefits;
refunds to start in May

WASHINGTON – To help taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced today that it will take steps to automatically refund money this spring and summer to people who filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation before the recent changes made by the American Rescue Plan.

The legislation, signed on March 11, allows taxpayers who earned less than $150,000 in modified adjusted gross income to exclude unemployment compensation up to $20,400 if married filing jointly and $10,200 for all other eligible taxpayers. The legislation excludes only 2020 unemployment benefits from taxes.
Consumers Turn To Installment Payment Plans For Premium Purchases

The pandemic drove dramatic changes in the retail landscape, with 144 million United States-based shoppers shifting their purchasing power from brick-and-mortar stores to eCommerce alternatives. Those changes are likely to persist long-term, too, as 80 percent of consumers expect to retain their digital habits long after the pandemic has subsided.

The heavy reliance on online shopping has put renewed focus on digital-friendly payment options like buy now, pay later (BNPL) plans. This latter method appears to have particular sway among younger U.S. shoppers and has attracted customers in countries worldwide. The latest Buy Now, Pay Later Tracker® explores these growing trends, identifying BNPL’s core customer bases and uses, and examines the role the installment payment plans are likely to play in the future of retail.

CFPB Acting Director Uejio and FTC Acting Chairwoman Slaughter Issue Joint Statement on Preventing Illegal Evictions

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Dave Uejio and Federal Trade Commission Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter issued a joint statement regarding their agencies’ work to help stop illegal evictions and protect American consumers facing economic hardship due to COVID-19.

CFPB Acting Director Dave Uejio and FTC Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter:

“We have directed our staff to investigate eviction practices, particularly by major multistate landlords, eviction management services, and private equity firms, to ensure that they are complying with the law. Evicting tenants in violation of the CDC, state, or local moratoria, or evicting or threatening to evict them without apprising them of their legal rights under such moratoria, may violate prohibitions against deceptive and unfair practices, including under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act. We will not tolerate illegal practices that displace families and expose them—and by extension all of us—to grave health risks.”

H&R Block eyes digital banking market

H&R Block plans to launch digital checking and savings accounts for consumers and small businesses, as the Kansas City, Missouri-based company aims to move beyond tax preparation, its signature service, CEO Jeff Jones told Business Insider on Wednesday.

The firm expects the digital bank will be available by next tax season and will target existing customers with the service.

While the company will join a competitive field of digital players vying for consumer and small-business accounts, H&R Block’s brand awareness and physical presence could give it an advantage over fintechs.

KeyBank's digital bank for doctors gets national launch

The bank expects to add checking and retail investments to the platform this year, and to expand banking services to pharmacists, physician assistants, nurses and therapists.

KeyBank on Tuesday launched Laurel Road for Doctors, a digital bank that offers tailored financial services to healthcare professionals.

The launch, which the regional bank said was forthcoming during its fourth-quarter earnings call in January, comes nearly two years after KeyBank purchased the student loan refinancing startup Laurel Road for an undisclosed amount.

KeyBank started working on its plans to launch the digital bank for Laurel Road’s customers 15 months ago, with the goal to expand the platform nationally, said Jamie Warder, executive vice president and head of digital banking at the Cleveland-based bank.

PNC Gets Stamp Of Approval For Low-Fee Account Aimed At ‘Underbanked’

PNC Bank has gained certification from the Cities for Financial Empowerment (CFE) Fund for a second bank account that limits fees. The nonprofit CFE Fund and the Bank On coalition aim to help low- to moderate-income people gain affordable banking services.

The financial institution (FI) will charge $5 a month, but the checking account will have no charges for overdrafts or insufficient funds, Bloomberg reported. One in four U.S. adults is considered unbanked or underbanked, according to the nonprofit Financial Health Network, which says those consumers pay almost $200 billion a year in fees and interest on financial products.

Earlier this year (Jan. 27), the CFE Fund certified 60 FIs, including PNC, as partners in its efforts, according to a press release. “These bank and credit union accounts support local Bank On coalition efforts to expand access to safe and appropriate financial products and services to the almost 36 million people outside of the mainstream financial system.”

Visa to allow payment settlement using cryptocurrency

The payment system provider will use USD Coin to settle transactions

Visa Inc. said on Monday it will allow customers to settle transactions on its payment network in cryptocurrency.

The company will pilot the use of the stablecoin USD Coin to settle transactions over Ethereum, an open-source blockchain network. The program is being offered with the help of partner brokerage platform and the digital-asset bank Anchorage. More partners are expected to be included in the program later this year.

USD Coin is pegged directly to the U.S. dollar.

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