On July 19, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA or the Agency) announced the establishment of the Office of Financial Technology to serve as a source of information, Agency support in addressing emerging risks, and avenue to advance Agency priorities as to the adoption and deployment of financial technology (fintech). At the same time, the FHFA issued a request for information (RFI), seeking information about the use of fintech in the housing finance market. The tone of the FHFA’s announcement and the accompanying RFI is notable for its balance — highlighting both the potential advantages of fintech in making housing finance more accessible and efficient, as well as the potential risks revolving around fair lending, privacy, and data security issues.

Director Sandra L. Thompson described the role of the new fintech office as “help[ing] advance effective risk management as FHFA evaluates applications of fintech in housing finance, as well as in compliance, and regulatory activities.”

In particular, the Office will:

  • Support the Agency in developing strategies for FHFA-regulated entities to advance housing finance fintech and innovation in a safe and sound, responsible, and equitable manner;
  • Engage with market participants, industry, nonprofits, consumer groups, and academia to facilitate the sharing of best practices of housing finance fintech and innovation;
  • Establish ongoing outreach through the regulated entities, promoting awareness and understanding of housing finance fintech and innovation;
  • Facilitate interagency collaboration with other regulators to enable information sharing and partnership opportunities; and
  • Serve as an Agency resource for innovations, general trends, and emerging risks in housing finance fintech.

The RFI deadline to respond is no later than October 16, and focuses on the following categories:

  • Fintech and innovation;
  • Identifying fintech opportunities in the housing finance ecosystem;
  • Equitable access to mortgage credit;
  • Identifying and mitigating fintech risks; and
  • Office of Financial Technology activities and stakeholder engagement.

Public input may be submitted electronically via the FHFA response form.