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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

CFPB proposes a rule to regulate fintech firms like banks

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance Federal Issues CFPB Cryptocurrency Fintech

Agency Rule-Making & Guidance

On November 7, the CFPB proposed a rule to supervise large non-bank fintech firms that offer services like digital wallets and payment apps, applicable to larger firms handling greater than 5 million transactions per year, in the same way many large banks and credit unions are supervised. While fintech agencies offer consumer banking services, they are not regulated as stringently as banks are.

The CFPB found that many consumers from middle- and lower-income backgrounds now prefer using digital consumer payment applications over cash. This shift from traditional banking puts consumers at risk since fintech  applications are not subject to “traditional banking safeguards… like deposit insurance.” The CFPB’s proposed rule ensures these non-bank companies:

  • Adhere to federal consumer financial protection laws that encompass protections against unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices, consumers’ rights when transferring money, and privacy rights. The CFPB would supervise larger participants to ensure compliance.
  • Follow the same rules as banks and credit unions, fostering fair competition and consistent enforcement of federal consumer financial protection laws.

The Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA) provides the CFPB with the authority to conduct supervisory examinations over all non-bank companies in the mortgage, payday loan, and private student loan industries, as well as those who serve as service providers to banks and credit unions. In addition, the CFPB can supervise individual entities that pose a risk to consumers, as well as larger participants in other markets. This proposed rule would give the CFPB greater regulatory authority and oversight over large technology firms in consumer financial markets.