The Financial Technology Association (FTA) sent a letter to the Maryland Office of Financial Regulation (OFR) in response to its Guidance on Earned Wage Access (EWA) products and in support of efforts to enhance regulatory clarity relating to EWA. As FTA wrote in its comment letter:
“EWA products provide consumers with access to their wages as those wages are earned, allowing consumers to pay bills on time, buy essentials like groceries, keep up with debt, have money for unexpected expenses, and avoid more costly and sometimes negative alternatives to fill personal liquidity gaps.”
“FTA supports clarity on how OFR views earned wage access products and requirements for EWA providers. However, we are concerned that OFR’s Guidance may inadvertently harm a new area of innovation that is benefiting Maryland consumers.”
First, “EWA products are not credit and operate differently from traditional installment loan products, we believe a purpose-built framework is more beneficial to–and protective of–consumers than force-fitting EWA products into regulations related to traditional credit or installment loans.”
Second, “tips and other voluntary payments are not imposed by an EWA provider and therefore should not be considered interest. There is a fundamental distinction between a mandatory, contract-imposed fee and a tip or other voluntary payment. With tips or voluntary payments, the consumer retains flexibility and choice–the opportunity and power to choose whether to pay, what to pay, and when to pay for access to their money when they need it.”
Read the full comment letter here.
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) is a Washington, DC-based trade association representing industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.