CFPB advisory board panels to meet on ‘call for evidence’ initiative, mobile financial services to vulnerable populations

Two subcommittees of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) are set to meet by conference call April 18 and 19, respectively, to address two requests for information (RFIs) issued in the bureau’s “call for evidence” that the consumer protection agency is doing what it’s intended to do; and on lessons learned about the needs of specific targeted vulnerable populations around mobile financial services (MFS) and MFS features.

The RFIs will be discussed in the meeting of the advisory board’s Consumer Lending Subcommittee, scheduled to run from about 1 – 2:30 p.m. ET on April 18; the notice doesn’t identify which of the 12 RFIs will be covered. Under the call for evidence by CFPB Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, the bureau has already issued 11 RFIs and is expected to release its twelfth, and final, one this Wednesday regarding consumer inquiries. Previous RFIs in this initiative have focused on financial education (released last week), inherited rules and authorities, adopted rules and new authorities, guidance and implementation, rulemaking processes, supervision, external engagements, enforcement processes, civil investigative demands, rules of practice for adjudicative proceedings, and public reporting of consumer complaints.

Mobile financial services will be discussed during the meeting April 19 (about 1 – 2 p.m. ET) by the advisory board’s Card, Payment, and Deposits Markets Subcommittee. While the agenda for this meeting offers little detail, the CFPB Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) did issue an RFI in 2014 regarding mobile financial services and how low-income and economically vulnerable consumers are using them. Results were released in November 2015. The final report, 82 pages long (and also drawing on research by the Federal Reserve and Pew Research Center), pointed out that 44 percent of unbanked individuals and 50 percent of adults living in households earning less than $30,000 per year have smartphones and that, for many, their smartphones or devices are the primary way they access the internet.

Among the challenges noted in that report was ensuring economically vulnerable consumers are accessing services that are both safe and cost-effective. The report also offered several suggestions for further research and information regarding personal financial management apps, impact analysis of digital analytics, security, specific population needs, and use of text messaging.

Written comments will be accepted from interested members of the public and should be sent to at least seven days in advance of the meetings.

CFPB Notice of Consumer Advisory Board subcommittee meetings April 18 and 19

2015 CFPB report on mobile financial services