Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau....

CFPB - New Super Agency!
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) descended on Durham, N.C. last week to hold  panel and open discussion sessions on "pre-paid cards", which appear to be one of the next major battlefields in the struggle over fairness in consumer finance.  

Pre-paid cards offer many new opportunities for credit unions to help members better manage their spending and payment transactions, without the penalty risks of NSF fees nor overdraft charges.  Pre-paid cards actually look like a product which can put consumers more fully in control of their finances, with better accountability and responsibility for their actions - a result which should be pleasing to one and all!  

Pre-paid cards may also be the perfect answer for bringing "the unbanked" back into the traditional financial services system, at a much lower cost to the consumer and as a new growth opportunity for credit unions.

Some very sly foxes!
But what I really wanted to mention was how knowledgeable, open, and inquisitive the "top brass" of the CFPB were.  Many of the Agency's leadership were there, including Richard Cordray and Raj Date. They truly understood the issues and obviously knew what they were about!  They even took time to listen to a group of consumer advocates from all across N.C., including credit union representatives.  Never seen such a tour-de-force by a regulatory group - insightful, "up to speed", engaged, definitely "first string players".  And, a truly open, honest dialogue... 

Know lots of folks are worried about where the CFPB will end up. First impression in N.C. was encouraging . Mr. Cordray used the expression "safety and transparency" on several key points and Mr. Date used the phrase "fact-based and transparent" in describing the Agency's method of work and decision making. Transparency?  Did you say transparency??  And, fact-based no less!!  What a breath of fresh air for a regulatory approach!!! 

CFPB continues to preach that its mandate is consumer protection and fairness.  If that proves true, credit unions have little to fear.    After all:

Q:  Who loses when the consumer wins?

A:  Certainly not a member-owned financial cooperative! 


Anonymous said...

Compare that presentation and the one Matz is doing on her listening tours and you can see how weak of an agency we now have.

Jim Blaine said...

Must confess that some of my favorite critics have suggested that I was clearly sprinkled with "pixie dust" while at the CFPB event. They also mentioned "tootsie rolled", lollipops and several other allusions to being a sucker... not very kind at all!

Thought it was very dangerous and hard to be critic of a regulatory agency... pretty clear it may also be dangerous and hard to be a "friend"!

Cherry and orange are my favorite flavors by the way....