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Compliance Enter your photo to win

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WASHINGTON (7/30/12)—Want to get away? Credit union compliance-types that have tried in vain to escape the office during their summer breaks can enter their best photos of people, places or things that have reminded them of work while on vacation to the Credit Union National Association's (CUNA) new summer Comp Blog contest.

CUNA's Kathy Thompson poses before a sculpture that some might say looks suspiciously similar to the CUNA logo. (CUNA Photo)
This summer's contest asks Comp Blog readers to send a "vacation" photo, and explain why that photo reminded you of something work related.

"As used by compliance people, a 'vacation' is defined as anything that occurs outside of nine-to-five, Monday through Friday, since compliance people never really sleep or vacation," CUNA Senior Vice President for Compliance Kathy Thompson explained.

The photos can be old or new, but they must include an explanation or caption of why the photo relates to the office, regulations, or other work matters.

Any photo that makes CUNA's compliance team laugh will win… a coveted, priceless prize. And a "Compliance Rules!!!" pin.

The contest will end on Aug. 22.

iGo Directi releases new PSA

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WASHINGTON (7/31/12)--The U.S. Treasury's Go Direct campaign has developed a new public service announcement that outlines the three steps federal benefit recipients can take to receive their funds through direct deposit, and the Direct Express Debit MasterCard.

The ad is being offered to television stations nationwide for broadcast.

The Treasury continues to urge social security recipients to switch to direct deposit through its Go Direct program. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) is a Go Direct national partner and supports the check-safety and cost-savings goals for the program.

All federal benefit recipients will be required to receive their Social Security and other federal benefit payments electronically through direct deposit beginning on March 31, 2013.

For the Go Direct video, use the resource link.

Cybersecurity bill CUNA industry partners watch progress

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WASHINGTON (7/31/12)--The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and a coalition of partners, including the Banking Industry Technology Secretariat, continue to evaluate a recently introduced U.S. Senate cybersecurity bill, with that legislation set for discussion and a possible vote this week.

The bill, known as the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (S. 3414), would establish voluntary cybersecurity standards in a bid to improve critical information protections.

CUNA and others are concerned that the voluntary security standards could eventually become mandatory, thus imposing a new burden on financial institutions.

CUNA has repeatedly said that the data security standards followed by credit unions and other financial institutions are strong, and the addition of new potentially duplicative data security standards could create issues for credit unions.

S. 3414 would also establish a National Cybersecurity Council, which would include appointed representatives from the Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the intelligence community, and various "sector-specific" federal agencies, as appropriate.

The council, according to a White House release, would "coordinate the identification of voluntary cybersecurity practices for critical cyber infrastructure."  The council would also present yearly assessments of the state of the nation's cybersecurity to various congressional committees.

Amendments are expected to be offered once the bill comes up for debate prior to a vote. CUNA has worked with senators on data security amendments, and those may be offered as part of the amendment process.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.), a sponsor of the bill, noted in a release that the number of cyber-attacks increased 17-fold between 2009 and 2011, and added that many of those attacks targeted critical infrastructure.

"Defense of our most critical networks, largely owned by the private sector, is vital to our national security and economic prosperity," Lieberman said in a joint release with fellow cosponsor Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). The senators urged their colleagues to approve the new cybersecurity legislation.

If the Senate passes a cybersecurity bill, that body will have to work out any differences between its bill and a bill approved earlier this year by the  U.S. House before new rules can become law.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), which passed the House this spring, would task an Office of the Director of National Intelligence with developing cyber-threat information sharing guidelines between public- and private-sector organizations.

The bill would also provide privacy protections for consumers by limiting the inclusion of consumer data in shared threat information.

CUNA trades ask remittance rule delay

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WASHINGTON (7/31/12)--New remittance regulations are set to go into effect early next year, and in a letter Monday the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) urged legislators to add their voices to a growing call for regulators to push back the implementation date and study the potential impact of the pending rule.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) final remittance transfer rule, which is scheduled to take effect on Feb. 7, 2013, would require remittance transfer providers to disclose the exchange rate, all fees associated with a transfer, and the amount of money that will be received on the other end. Remittance transfer providers will also be required to investigate disputes and fix mistakes.

Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.) are circulating a letter that urges CFPB Directgor Richard Cordray and the CFPB to delay remittance rule implementation until Feb. 2015. In the meantime, the agency could "undertake a comprehensive study of how international transfers are used today for all segments of the consumer population, and the impact of the current rule on consumers, pricing for international transfers for a range of dollar amounts, and product accessibility," the legislators' letter suggests.

The American Bankers Association, the Independent Community Bankers of America, the National Association of Federal Credit Unions and the National Bankers Association joined CUNA in urging legislators to co-sign that letter.

While the remittance rules are intended to provide greater transparency and certainty, smooth error resolution procedures, and increase access to low-cost transfer services for consumers who utilize remittances and international wire transfer services, they would add dramatically to the costs of providing these services, and create mandates that are simply not possible for community-based institutions to implement, the joint trade letter said.

"The end result is likely to be fewer and more costly choices for consumers as credit unions and community banks stop offering these services. This is clearly not what Congress intended," the joint trade letter added.

CUNA and these groups noted they strongly support, and historically always ensure, appropriate consumer disclosures of fees and product terms. However, the CFPB remittance rule will make it difficult and costly for financial institutions to continue to offer remittance services. "If not delayed and, hopefully, modified, the CFPB's remittances rule will result in fewer choices and more costs for consumers," the trades wrote.

House Senate hold final meetings before recess

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WASHINGTON (7/31/12)—As the U.S. Congress prepares to leave for a month-long August recess at the end of this week, credit unions will want to watch the House and Senate for potential votes and hints at how Congress could proceed when legislators return to Washington later this year.

Both the House and Senate are scheduled to return to Washington in early September, after the Democratic and Republican national political conventions, to name each party's presidential nominee, have ended.

Meanwhile this week, the Senate Banking Committee, today, will receive the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) semi-annual progress report. CUNA met with Senate Banking Committee staff last week to discuss credit union concerns and interactions with the CFPB ahead of this hearing.

The House Financial Services capital markets and government sponsored enterprises subcommittee has scheduled a Wednesday session to vote on the Equitable Treatment of Investors Act (H.R. 757), the Fostering Innovation Act (H.R. 6161), and a bill that would amend the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 to clarify provisions relating to the regulation of municipal advisors (H.R. 2827).

The House Small Business Committee will also be in session on Wednesday, as that group holds a hearing titled "Know Before You Regulate: The Impact of CFPB Regulations on Small Business." The name of the hearing is a play on the CFPB's "Know Before You Owe" program meant to improve disclosures to borrowers.

A Senate Finance Committee hearing has also been scheduled for Wednesday. That hearing, entitled "Tax Reform: Examining the Taxation of Business Entities," will focus on the different taxation of business entities structured as corporations versus passthroughs, and consider how related tax rules could be changed.

This week, the full House is expected to take up the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act (H.R. 8) and the Pathway to Job Creation through a Simpler, Fairer Tax Code Act (H.R. 6169). H.R. 8 would extend tax cuts that are scheduled to expire at the end of this year until 2013. H.R. 6169 would allow Congress to expedite consideration of tax reform bills, beginning in 2013.

That body could also consider agriculture legislation this week.

The Senate is expected to discuss cybersecurity legislation this week. (See related News Now story: CUNA, industry partners watching cybersecurity bill progress.)

Inside Washington (07/30/2012)

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  • WASHINGTON (7/31/12)--Since the financial crisis of 2009, the U.S.'s Financial Standards Accounting Board (FASB) has been working to harmonize U.S. accounting standards with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), but the effort appears to some to be unraveling.  Once the convergence of standards seemed inevitable, but a reluctance by FASB to accept an international deal on loan-loss provisions has introduced doubt.  Due to concerns that an international model for loss provisions could result in under-reserving, FASB at a joint July 18 meeting put off agreeing with The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) on a joint impairment proposal. Leslie Seidman, the U.S. board's chairman, said FASB still wants to hammer out a converged standard on impairment but believes the U,S,'s questions must be addressed before moving forward with an Exposure Draft.  IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst,  according to a transcript of the joint meeting, noted that both boards have made three attempts to address concerns.  He added that he is worried that the whole effort is going to unwind (American Banker July 30). …

  • WASHINGTON (7/31/12)--As the U.S. Treasury Department continues to work to wind down its Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and recoup the $1.2 billion used to bailout banks, the department announced its latest effort fell short of its recoupment goal.  Treasury was unable to sell some of the preferred shares it owns of two community banks because it did not receive sufficient bids for the securities. According to an announcement made Friday, Treasury will regain about $248.5 million from its latest auctions.  However, it did not sell its Series B preferred stock in First Community Financial, Joliet, Ill., and its Series A preferred stock in First Western Financial, Denver, Colo.  The department also noted it sold only about two-thirds of its Series C preferred stock in First Western. There were 10 other banks included in this most recent round of auctions. The 12 banks had received a combined $322 million from December 2008 to December 2009 under TARP (American Banker July 30). …