Fintech Firms Form New Trade Group
In the wake of proposed new regulations, a coalition of fintech companies has formed a new trade group aimed at ensuring consumers can access and share financial data with third-party companies.
The organization, called the Consumer Financial Data Rights group, includes founding members Affirm, Betterment, Digit, Envestnet|Yodlee, Kabbage, Personal Capital, Ripple, Varo Money and others, according to a recent announcement.
“Together with promoting consumer choice and access to these consumer-first financial health tools, the CFDR is also committed to improving dialogue throughout the financial industry, actively engaging the government and working with banks, fintech innovators, and third-party platforms,” the group said. “The CFDR aims to be a resource for policymakers, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as they determine how to best assist consumers in leveraging their own financial data.”
The group said its first action will be to submit a joint comment letter on the proposed Enhanced Cyber Risk Management Standards issued by the Federal Reserve, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and FDIC. The proposed standards precede another proposal to allow fintech companies to be chartered as special-purpose national banks, making them subject to the same standards as national banks, according to the OCC. It has faced some criticism from consumer groups concerned that giving fintech companies a national charter would thwart state supervision and make it hard for state attorneys general to take action against them.
The CFDR plans to ask regulators for a “risk hierarchy” of cybersecurity risk in the fintech industry, it said.
NAFCU President/CEO Dan Berger and others said the coalescing of fintech companies via the CFDR trade group doesn’t really pose a threat to the credit union industry.
“I think they’ve seen the writing on the wall, with some groups – including myself here at NAFCU – concerned about a lot of fintech companies popping up and not having to adhere to a regulatory schematic,” he told CU Times.
“This is just them being proactive. I don’t think it does anything for or against credit unions at this point,” he added.
Bryan Clagett, who is the chief marketing officer at Geezeo, a company that creates white-label personal financial management apps for credit unions and banks, had similar observations.
“The CFDR appears most interested in assuring the public has control to opt-in to products or services that offer customer value. In an ever-increasingly data-centric financial services industry, one that sees new players entering the space regularly, it makes sense that the industry better represent the needs of those consumers that see the value,” he told CU Times. “At the same time, policymakers need a clearer understanding of consumer sentiment and need, while seeing the bigger picture, which is American’s need for better financial well-being. Fintech is slowly being embraced as an opportunity for and by the financial services industry, rather than a threat. I envision a number of ways that credit unions can mitigate fraud risk by partnering with fintech.”
Kaleigh Simmons, who is the director of marketing at Rippleshot, a fraud analytics provider, said consumers continue look to financial institutions especially when it comes to fraud.
“Imagine you're a credit union member and an app can tell you that your card has been compromised, or is at risk of fraudulent activity. What's your next move going to be? Probably to your financial institution for help on what to do next,” she said. “From a competitive landscape standpoint, we still feel like banks, credit unions and the companies that service them are best positioned to battle fraud from a macro level.”
Berger and others are keeping their eye on fintech as a whole, however.
“Fintech absolutely could be a threat, but you’re seeing credit unions and other community financial institutions investing in technology and new mobile applications,” he said. “You’re seeing credit unions invest in the same space these guys are playing in, and as long as credit unions are offering not only their terrific member service but also have the technology that members want, they’ll be fine.”