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Certification now mandatory for lenders and mobile traders

From 1 October 2021, lenders providing consumer credit and mobile traders selling on credit must be certified by the Commerce Commission or face penalties, unless one of the exemptions apply to them.

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The main exemption is if a lender is licensed or registered by the Financial Markets Authority or Reserve Bank of New Zealand. There is also a new exemption that relates to securitisation or covered bond arrangements.

Additionally, there is a new exemption that relates to non-financial services businesses that provide credit on an interim basis. For these businesses to rely on the exemption, a number of requirements must be met including that the lender they have an agreement with is themselves certified – the Commission therefore encourages these lenders to apply for certification as soon as possible so that the businesses they have arrangements with can obtain the benefit of the exemption.

In order to give certification, the Commission will need to be satisfied that directors and senior managers of lenders providing consumer credit and mobile traders selling on credit are ‘fit and proper’ to perform their role – that they are financially sound, honest, reputable, reliable and competent to do their job.

Lenders providing consumer credit and mobile traders selling on credit that were already registered as a Financial Service Provider (FSP) by 1 October 2021 do not need to be certified until they complete their next annual FSP confirmation.

If lenders are not already registered as an FSP, as of 1 October 2021 they will need to be both certified by the Commission and registered as an FSP before they can provide consumer credit or mobile trading services.

“We are aware that some organisations provide consumer credit that might not see themselves as typical lenders. This is a good time for all organisations who might be providing consumer credit or relevant mobile trading services to check their obligations, including whether they need to be registered and certified. The consequences could be significant if they get it wrong. If you sell goods or services on deferred payment terms to individuals you should get advice about whether you need to comply,” says Commission Chair Anna Rawlings.

“Businesses must take a proactive approach to certification and ask themselves: could this apply to me?”

All lenders and mobile traders should consider applying for certification at least two months before they have to be certified, in order to continue trading until the Commission completes the certification process. If they apply for certification less than two months before they have to be certified, they must stop trading until certification has been granted.

Lending without being certified could result in penalties of up to $600,000 for a company or $200,000 for an individual.

If lenders or mobile traders are unsure about whether they need to be certified, they should read the certification guidance on the Commission’s website and seek legal advice if they need it. More information about the exemptions can also be found in the Commission’s guidance and the regulations.

Background

The Government has introduced a range of changes to the CCCFA and CCCF Regulations which come into effect in stages between December 2019 and December 2021. For more information about the changes and the timeline see the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s website and the Commission’s website. For a sample Fit and Proper certification application form and Certification FAQs, visit the Certification page on the Commission’s website.


Source: www.comcom.govt.nz


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