‘Fair Lending’ report outlines nuanced approach to innovation, creating increased access to credit

Exploration of cutting-edge fair lending issues – including how consumer-friendly innovation can increase access to credit for all consumers and especially unbanked and underbanked consumers and their communities – will be a focal point for the federal consumer financial protection agency, its director states in her introduction to the 2018 Fair Lending Report published Monday.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathleen (“Kathy”) Kraninger states in the introduction to the bureau’s report that her agency “will continue to vigorously enforce fair lending laws in our jurisdiction, and will stand on guard against unlawful discrimination in credit.” She notes the impact of “consumer-friendly” innovation in that context.

Along those lines, bureau Office of Fair Lending Director Patrice Alexander Ficklin noted (in her own introduction to the report) that the bureau’s “Project Catalyst” was moved into the new Office of Innovation. “The Bureau encourages responsible innovations that could be implemented in a consumer-friendly way to help serve populations currently underserved by the mainstream credit system,” Ficklin wrote. “The office worked closely with Project Catalyst since its inception to increase consumer access to credit. The Fair Lending office looks forward to the continued close working relationship with the Office of Innovation.”

Project Catalyst, a 2014 initiative by the agency, was originally set up to encourage consumer-friendly developments in markets for consumer financial products and services.

The Fair Lending Report (delivered to Congress as mandated by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) also outlines how the bureau last year:

  • Monitored its first “no-action” letter, which was issued in 2017 to a company that uses alternative, or non-traditional, data to make credit and pricing decisions to enable people with limited credit history, among others, to obtain credit or obtain credit on better terms.
  • Issued new guidance to facilitate implementation of HMDA.
  • Convened the “Building a Bridge to Credit Visibility” symposium, which the agency said brought together “diverse stakeholders to expand access to credit to the millions of consumers who currently lack access.”

CFPB Fair Lending Report 2018