CFPB seeks data from large payments system operators including Facebook, Amazon

Orders seeking business practice data from large technology companies that operate payments systems in the U.S. – among them Facebook, Amazon, Apple – were issued Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the bureau announced.

The bureau said it’s seeking the information to help it better understand how the firms use personal payments data and manage data access to users “so the Bureau can ensure adequate consumer protection.”

“Big Tech companies are eagerly expanding their empires to gain greater control and insight into our spending habits,” CFPB Director Rohit Chopra said in a comment included with Thursday’s announcement. “We have ordered them to produce information about their business plans and practices.”

The CFPB orders – initial orders went to initial orders went to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PayPal, and Square – were issued under the agency’s monitoring authority provided by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank). The bureau notes that it has the statutory authority to order participants in the payments market to turn over information to help it monitor for risks to consumers and to publish aggregated findings that are in the public interest.

The bureau said it will also be studying the payment system practices of Chinese tech giants, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.

This inquiry, it said, is one of many efforts within the Federal Reserve System to to make payments safer, faster, and more competitive. In a statement, Chopra said the agency will also be seeking public comment on its inquiry. A Federal Register notice is expected.

It also said the orders “build on the efforts of the Federal Trade Commission’s work to shed light on the business practices of the largest technology companies in the world” and also seek to “illuminate the range of these consumer payment products and their underlying business practices.”

The orders will compel information on data harvesting and monetization; access restrictions and user choice; and other consumer protections, the agency said.

Regarding consumer protections, the bureau said it is seeking to “understand the robustness with which payment platforms prioritize consumer protection” under laws such as the Electronic Fund Transfer Act (EFTA) and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.

CFPB Orders Tech Giants to Turn Over Information on their Payment System Plans