Receiving Wide Coverage ...
Court hears SIFI appeal: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments from the federal government on Monday that MetLife is a "systemically important financial institution" and requires stricter regulation. The Financial Stability Oversight Council voted in December 2014 that the insurance company was a "SIFI" but was overruled by a U.S. district court judge earlier this year. The FSOC is now appealing that decision. "Beyond issues related to MetLife directly, the case holds broader significance," the Wall Street Journal commented. "The ability to bring large financial companies such as MetLife under tougher rules was an important piece of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul. The law created the council to … tag financial companies for stricter oversight if it determined their failure could put the broader economy at risk." Wall Street Journal, American Banker, New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Solid quarter for Visa: The card giant's fiscal fourth quarter earnings jumped 28% while operating revenue rose 19%, beating Street estimates. The payments company earned $1.93 billion, or 79 cents per Class A share, for the quarter ended September 30, up from $1.51 billion, or 62 cents, a year earlier. Operating revenue rose to $4.26 billion from $3.57 billion. Analysts had expected earnings of 73 cents a share on revenue of $4.23 billion. Payments volume for the quarter jumped 47% on a constant-dollar basis to $1.9 trillion, bolstered by the purchase of Visa Europe, while the number of transactions processed rose 41% to 25.9 billion.
Grave concern: CFPB Director Richard Cordray warned banks not to stand in the way of consumers' requests to share their financial data with personal finance websites, such as Intuit's Mint. "Let me state the matter as clearly as I can here: We believe consumers should be able to access this information and give their permission for third-party companies to access this information as well," Cordray said Sunday at Money 20/20, one of the largest payments conferences in the nation. "We're gravely concerned by reports that some financial institutions are looking for ways to limit or even shut off access to financial data rather than exploring ways to make sure that such access, once granted, is safe and secure." He was referring to reports in the Wall Street Journal last year that several large banks had temporarily suspended delivery of customer accounts data to Mint and other so-called aggregators.
PayPal-Facebook integration: PayPal announced a deeper integration with Facebook that will allow each other's users to link their accounts. PayPal will become a payment option across more of Facebook's new offerings.
Northeast regionals merge: Community Bank System, based near Syracuse, N.Y., said it has agreed to acquire Merchants Bancshares in a deal valued at $304 million. Community Bank, which has 200 locations in upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania, has assets of $8.7 billion. Merchants Bancshares has 32 locations in Vermont and western Massachusetts and total assets of nearly $1.9 billion.
Image remake: Wells Fargo launched a television advertising campaign Monday night as part of a push to rebuild its tarnished brand. "We're taking action. We're renewing our commitment to you," says the narrator in the ads, which are scheduled to run during the three major broadcast networks' nightly national news programs. A survey released Monday found that 30% of the bank's customers said they are actively looking to switch banks while one in seven had already decided to switch.
"You're not specific enough when you say, 'Well, it's a really bad situation so we assume bad things are going to happen.'" — Judge Patricia Millett of the United States Court of Appeals in response to federal regulators' arguments that MetLife is "systemically important" and therefore requires closer oversight.