Trump Urged to Boost Fintech Via a New Treasury Post

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By Gregory Roberts

Nov. 30 — President-elect Donald Trump should create the post of undersecretary for technology in the U.S. Treasury Department and fill it with someone who will “ensure America wins the race to create fintech companies and grow jobs,” a consortium of five leading tech and internet companies said Nov. 30.

Financial Innovation Now (FIN), a Washington group comprising Amazon, Apple, Google, PayPal and Intuit, released a letter to Trump that also included several policy recommendations, such as:

  •  Appoint tech-savvy and tech-friendly regulators. Many in the fintech industry feel the U.S. lags the U.K., Singapore, Australia and other countries in promoting innovation through such techniques as regulation-lite “sandboxes” that allow for testing new products and services. FIN mentions favorably the Project Catalyst program of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the “innovation initiative” of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Project Catalyst potentially entails no-action letters that would shield an innovation from some types of enforcement, though none have been issued. The OCC has created a separate office within the agency to help innovators navigate the regulations within what FIN calls the “antiquated banking sector,” although Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry has been cool to the sandbox concept.
  •  Allow consumers free access to their own financial data. CFPB Director Richard Cordray has been out front on this issue, announcing earlier this month that his agency is undertaking a survey of how easily consumers can share their banking and other financial information with third-party providers of tax and investment advice and other services, and to what extent the banks block the data-sharing.
  •  Make it easier for small businesses to borrow online. Several online platform lenders specialize in loans to small businesses, a sector PayPal has moved into as well. Lenders who don’t piggyback on bank charters must comply with what FIN calls “antiquated state lending rules,” and the OCC has been studying the possibility of issuing national non-bank charters to fintech companies and others that would preempt state laws. Curry has scheduled a speech Dec. 2 in Washington on the idea.
  •  Smooth money-transmission rules. In a similar vein, FIN wants a federal system that would do away with the patchwork of state laws governing electronic money transmission.
  •  Promote real-time payments. The Trump administration should join the push for faster payment processing, FIN says.
  •  Get hip to mobile payments. Mobile wallets and other technologies can bring underbanked consumers the benefits of financial services, FIN says.
  •  Push for open card-payment security standards, in contrast to closed, proprietary systems that, FIN says, are counterproductive in reducing fraud.

Fintech policies did not play a role in Trump’s presidential campaign, and he has not provided specifics about his intentions in that area since his election.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gregory Roberts in Washington at gRoberts@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Ferullo at MFerullo@bna.com

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