Nov 16 - The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced the launch of Project Catalyst, an initiative designed to encourage consumer-friendly innovation and entrepreneurship in markets for consumer financial products and services. The bureau views this project as an important means of fulfilling its mandate under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to give all consumers access to fair, transparent, competitive and innovative markets.
“We want to collaborate with innovators seeking to advance consumer-friendly innovation,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “These collaborations help us better understand what works and does not work to improve life for consumers in the marketplace.”
Through Project Catalyst, the CFPB will engage more closely with companies and entrepreneurs who are at the front lines of innovation. The bureau has already conducted early outreach to the innovation community, and today is establishing a website dedicated to boosting access and communication between the bureau and those in that community.
With Project Catalyst, the bureau will work to:
Establish firm lines of communication with innovators: The bureau wants to be accessible to all those who may be affected by the bureau’s regulations, including those on the front lines of innovation. Direct communication will allow the bureau to better understand the current situations in the market.
Understand new and emerging products in the market: Current regulations were written to address existing products. As products evolve, regulations may need to evolve as well and the bureau wants to be prepared.
Engage with innovators: The bureau wants to engage with innovators who have new ideas that beget consumer-friendly innovation. These collaborations help it better understand what works and does not work for consumers.
As a data-driven agency, the CFPB always wants to learn more about what innovators are discovering about consumer wants, needs, and practices. In the inaugural phase of Project Catalyst, three companies have agreed to share anonymized data about consumer behaviors and trends with the CFPB. The data sharing will not contain personally identifiable information and appropriate precautions will be taken to ensure that individual consumers cannot be identified through the data. The bureau will use that data gathered to better inform policy decisions. The three companies are:
BillGuard: BillGuard is a company that alerts consumers to questionable charges on their debit and credit cards and helps them resolve billing disputes quickly. BillGuard will share their billing dispute data with the bureau, which will allow it to observe trends in consumer complaints and complaint resolution.
Plastyc: Plastyc is designed to be an alternative to traditional banking. Plastyc’s data sharing will focus on the value consumers place on easily depositing and obtaining immediate access to their funds.
Simple: Simple is designed to be an alternative to traditional banking. This collaboration will explore how consumers can gain insight into their spending habits and help the bureau understand what tools can encourage saving.
More information about Project Catalyst is available at: www.consumerfinance.gov/projectcatalyst.