financial regulation

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FDATA North America Submits Comments to US Financial Regulators’ Request for Comment on Managing Risks Associated with Third-Party Relationships

September 23, 2021, Washington, DC – Today, the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) of North America submitted comments to the US financial regulators as part of their proposed interagency guidance and request for comment on managing risks associated with third party relationships. The Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) sought comments on proposed guidance on sound risk management principles for banking organizations to consider in developing risk management practices for third-party relationships. In its response, FDATA North America expressed that streamlining the ability for banks to partner with third-party providers will be critical to the survival of small and community banks in the United States and to the financial wellness of their customers. 

Throughout the submission, FDATA North America Executive Director Steve Boms discussed the scope, tailored approach, and information security around these relationships from the perspective of the aggregation and fintech community. “Though the proposed guidance is directed toward insured depository institutions, it directly impacts third-party providers which [FDATA North America] represents and, by extension their customers,” Boms stated. 

Additionally, Boms discussed concern that the OCC’s 2020 FAQs on third-party risk management guidance have increased the complexity of bilateral data access agreement negotiations, thus creating an environment in which “the largest financial institutions are in a position of increased control over whether and how their customers will have the ability so share access to their financial data.” Therefore, Boms expressed that a solution to this problem would be to remove the interpretive role banks play today in this space through the creation of a regulatory structure in which prudential regulators “supervise and retain full responsibility for interactions only between banks and data aggregators,” while the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), upon finalization of a rule under Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act, “is similarly responsible for supervising the relationship between data aggregators and third-party providers, and by extension, the end users.” Doing so, Boms stated, would eliminate the “legal grey area” which is currently stifling the growth and innovation of third-party financial tools to the detriment of US consumers. 

FDATA North America urged the agencies to embrace the letter and spirit of the July 2021 Executive Order on promoting competition in the American economy and ensure that any policy changes resulting from the development of this guidance do not interfere with the goals set out in the Order.

Image result for paperclip iconFDATA North America submission to financial regulators’ request for comment on third-party relationships

FDATA was heavily involved in the UK Open Banking Working Group in 2015. In 2016, the working group’s output was published by Her Majesty’s Treasury as the Open Banking Standard. FDATA North America was founded in early 2018. Its members collectively provide tens of millions of consumers in Canada, the United States and Mexico with aggregation-based tools to better manage their finances.

Members include air (Alliance for Innovative Regulation), APImetrics, Basis Theory, Betterment, BillGo, Codat, Direct ID, Envestnet Yodlee, EQ Bank, Experian, Fiserv, Flinks, Interac, Intuit, Inverite, Kabbage, Mogo, Morningstsar, M Science, MX, Petal, Plaid, Questrade, Rocket Mortgage, SaltEdge, Trustly, ValidiFI, VoPay, Wealthica, Xero, and others.

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Member Spotlight: AIR

The Alliance for Innovative Regulation, or AIR, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing financial regulation into the 21st century. What would consumers and small businesses have to gain from this move? According to AIR, improved financial inclusion, better consumer protection, lower rates of financial crime, and continuous innovation that helps them save and earn more and that drives economic expansion.

AIR generates thought leadership, connects and educates innovators and regulators, and runs a policy accelerator to test and demonstrate new regulatory technologies. It also works directly with regulators throughout the world to support government innovation efforts.

Sound financial regulation is particularly important during times of economic distress, like the coronavirus pandemic, when businesses and families are doing more with less and are rapidly shifting to digital channels. AIR CEO Jo Ann Barefoot says, “The pandemic has packed a decade’s worth of innovation and technology adoption into a few short months, in every field including finance and financial regulation. It opens an opportunity for very rapid progress toward regulatory strategies that can work better, cheaper and faster, all at once.”

During the COVID crisis, AIR hosted two Save Small Business Hackathons to accelerate the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application process by helping banks calculate, track, and report on requirements for loan forgiveness for the PPP. More recently, AIR ran a techsprint examining how to curtail use of cryptocurrency to purchase child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. The participating teams of engineers, financial companies, and child advocates will present proposed solutions to FinCEN in December.

CEO Barefoot has explained how improving financial regulation can spur an economic recovery after this crisis. “Regulation may not be sexy, but the rules we create to enforce laws carry a massive economic cost,” Barefoot said In an op-ed in The Hill in May 2020. Barefoot. “Estimates are that federal regulations alone cost $2 trillion annually. Not only is that comparable in cost to the recently passed stimulus bill, but it’s also equivalent to 10 percent of total U.S. GDP.”

AIR Cofounder David Ehrich notes, “Regulation is the aperture through which all financial innovation has to pass. We need to get it right.” As part of that effort, AIR issued a Regtech Manifesto in July, seeking public comment on why and how to modernize the regulatory system. The organization also hosts a podcast, Barefoot Innovation, which explores better solutions for financial consumers at the intersection of technology innovation and regulation with regtech and fintech CEOs, lawmakers, regulators, bankers, and academics.

“A critical trend in financial innovation is the global move toward open finance, grounded in assuring that consumers can use their financial data to advance their own goals and widen their choices, with confidence that it will be secure,” says Barefoot, who was inducted into the CB Insights Fintech Hall of Fame in November. “In the US, 2021 will be pivotal as the CFPB works through how to shape a data landscape that protects consumers and also enables innovation to flourish.”