On June 10, Troutman Sanders attended the Federal Trade Commission’s FinTech Forum on marketplace lending. The event marked the first in the FTC’s FinTech Forum series, which is part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts to examine marketplace lending and its impact on consumers. The topics discussed during the forum included adequate lending disclosures, issues related to credit reporting, robust privacy and data security practices, protections against unauthorized charges, fair lending concerns, and debt collection practices.
FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez provided opening remarks at the event. She noted that “while traditional financial institutions still dominate, it is becoming increasingly clear that innovators are disrupting the financial services sector.” Ramirez praised the innovations in the financial technology industry, but also warned that “it is important to examine not only the potential benefits of this form of lending, but also the risks it may present for consumers.” Ramirez added, “As in other areas, the FTC will remain vigilant to ensure that market participants adhere to applicable laws.”
Ramirez went on to state, “In light of the FTC’s broad jurisdiction over non-bank financial entities and our decades of experience enforcing consumer lending laws, we want to ensure that consumers are treated fairly when they navigate this changing landscape. This includes ensuring that the same protections consumers have in traditional lending contexts also apply to marketplace lending.”
Ramirez’s speech indicates that FinTech companies should expect increased scrutiny and oversight from the FTC. The FTC has traditionally investigated financial services companies for unfair and deceptive practices – from misleading ads to privacy abuses and unreasonable data security practices. FinTech companies should also take note of the FTC’s interest in ensuring that requirements applicable to traditional financial services companies are also applicable to FinTech companies. For example, Ramirez noted that the FTC will continue to enforce a wide range of financial consumer protection statutes and regulations that apply in the financial service arena, including the Truth in Lending Act, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Graham-Leach-Bliley Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.
In addition to Ramirez’s remarks, the half-day event featured two panel discussions. The first panel discussed the current state of marketplace lending and its implications for consumers, and included representatives from the Treasury Department, U.S. PIRG, Lend Academy, and the Center for Financial Services Innovation. The second panel discussed the future of marketplace lending and how best to protect consumers as the market evolves, and included representatives from the California Department of Business Oversight, George Mason University, the Marketplace Lending Association, and the National Consumer Law Center.