You, Me, and Everyone You Know – The Impact of FinCEN’s Beneficial Ownership Requirements

If you’re a payment facilitator, how much do you currently know about the owners of your sub-merchant customers? If you’re a processor, how much do you know about the owners of your payment facilitator customer’s sub-merchant customers? And if you’re a bank, how much do you know about the owners of your processor customer’s payment facilitator customer’s sub-merchant customers (who are, technically, also your customers)?

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A Payment Facilitator’s Guide to Staying Out of Regulatory Crosshairs

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) have increasingly targeted actors in the payments industry—including processors and independent sales organizations (ISOs)—for allowing “bad” merchants into, or to remain in, the payments ecosystem.

Indeed, when regulators identify significant consumer injury resulting from a merchant’s deceptive practices, it is not uncommon for the merchant’s payment processor and/or ISO to be named as a codefendant in an ensuing enforcement action—along with individuals at the processor or ISO who facilitated the merchant’s processing activity.

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FTC Investigating Venmo, Potentially Raising Compliance Interpretation Issues

Venmo has gotten into trouble—of the embarrassment sort—before with aggressive compliance efforts. That was specifically when it created a list of words that could delay transaction processing, such as the word Persian. And PayPal-owned Venmo was hardly alone, with Chase was caught doing similar word scans, as a man who had a dog named Dash discovered.

But the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has now launched a formal investigation into Venmo. With the FTC, phrasing is critical. An investigation is very different than an FTC study, such as the one the FTC launched to look into practices of the PCI Council. PayPal disclosed the investigation in an SEC filing last week. What exactly is being investigated?

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FTC Launches PCI Probe. Ruh-Roh

On Monday (March 7), the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched a government investigation of PCI, zeroing in on potentially excessive charges, inconsistency in enforcement and rampant conflicts of interest. As famed QSA Scooby Doo would have said, “Ruh-roh.”

None of this is news to the FTC and it’s part of the reason for the investigation, which FTC is officially calling a study. “We have heard these issues,” said David Lincicum, an FTC attorney in the division of privacy and identity protection, who is the lead attorney on the study and is also managing the study. “We go into this looking to get information, to get some details about what the interactions look like.”

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