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InvestmentsU.S. consumer watchdog lays out ambitious agenda to eye Big Tech, lending...

U.S. consumer watchdog lays out ambitious agenda to eye Big Tech, lending competition By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The seal of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is seen at their headquarters in Washington, U.S., May 14, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo

By Katanga Johnson and Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Chief consumer finance watchdog Rohit Chopra instructed U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday his company desires to decrease foreclosures on struggling American householders and make consumer lending extra aggressive.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will even scrutinize the efforts of know-how giants to achieve better management over the circulation of cash within the financial system; these “Big Tech” firms usually provide real-time consumer funds programs and consequently management big quantities of consumer knowledge.

And, it is going to sharpen its enforcement give attention to firms that repeatedly violate consumer finance legal guidelines.

Chopra, a longtime consumer advocate tapped by Democratic President Joe Biden to assist tackle inequities in lending, outlined an ambitious agenda amid the persevering with financial fallout from the coronavirus in his first listening to as CFPB director earlier than members of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee.

“In many parts of the country and in many individual neighborhoods, conditions remain fragile,” Chopra instructed the panel. “Many families continue to struggle to afford their mortgage and rent payments. Many small businesses are facing severe challenges to make ends meet.”

Chopra’s look will probably reinvigorate the CFPB’s standing as a political lightning rod. Republicans have sought to handcuff the company since its creation, calling it overpowerful and unaccountable.

“You have inherited an agency that was undermined by the Trump administration, which actively worked to reduce consumer protection and enable predatory behavior against the most vulnerable,” mentioned U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (NYSE:), who chairs the House panel.

“Thankfully, their efforts to eliminate the CFPB were not successful.”

Sworn in because the CFPB’s full-time director earlier this month, Chopra constructed his title as a fierce consumer advocate on the Federal Trade Commission, and beforehand helped Senator Elizabeth Warren arrange the CFPB after it was created in 2010.

Chopra’s file as a company critic and expertise on the company will probably make him a potent director, say analysts.

“This hearing should serve as a reminder of both the bureau’s broad authority and Director Chopra’s capacity to effectively use the bureau’s toolbox,” mentioned Isaac Boltansky, director of coverage analysis for monetary agency BTIG.

Just just a few weeks into the job, Chopra made his mark when the CFPB ordered https://www.reuters.com/technology/us-consumer-watchdog-orders-tech-giants-turn-over-information-payment-systems-2021-10-21 Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ:), Apple Inc (NASDAQ:) and Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:) to hand over details about how they collect and use consumer cost knowledge.

He instructed lawmakers the company will preserve an in depth eye on practices that may impede competition by paying attention to “the obstacles small local financial institutions face when seeking to challenge dominant incumbents, including in Big Tech.”

That push for readability is a part of a rising curiosity amongst regulators and lawmakers concerning the speedy adoption of know-how in varied monetary merchandise, starting from cryptocurrency to new “buy now, pay later” lending merchandise.

Democrats’ high coverage priorities embrace boosting competition within the consumer finance sector by requiring monetary firms to give shoppers extra management over their monetary knowledge — an idea generally known as “open banking https://www.reuters.com/business/exclusive-white-house-target-bank-mergers-financial-data-with-competition-order-2021-07-09.”

Chopra says he’s finding out open banking rules in different nations, significantly the U.Ok., and is keen to overview the company’s feedback. Analysts mentioned they anticipated the CFPB to transfer forward with an open-banking rule first proposed by the company underneath the previous Trump administration in coming months.

“I think (the open banking rulemaking) holds promise to really make sure there’s a more competitive environment; that consumers have more choices; and that there’s not just a handful of incumbents who control everything,” Chopra mentioned.

“At the same time, we’re going to need to make sure we’re protecting privacy, security and other things that are critical.”

Chopra’s expansive agenda on the CFPB will even embrace revisiting https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/how-bidens-agencies-are-picking-apart-trumps-wall-street-friendly-measures-2021-04-12 a number of main rule easings ushered by way of underneath Republican management, significantly round debt assortment and payday lending.

Advocates are keen to see Chopra erase industry-friendly modifications ushered in underneath Republican management and impose powerful new guidelines on {the marketplace}.

“We hope he will explain how he plans to supercharge the CFPB’s efforts to protect consumers from credit reporting mistakes, forced arbitration, overdraft fees and predatory loans,” mentioned Michael Litt, a director at Washington-based U.S. PIRG, a consumer advocacy group.

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