CBA To CFPB: Level Playing Field In BNPL Marketplace Needed To Protect All Consumers

March 25, 2022

In a new letter sent today to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA) outlined recommendations necessary to promote a safe and competitive “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) marketplace. The letter was sent in response to the Bureau’s December 2021 Request For Information (RFI) on the business practices of five fintech BNPL providers.

In the letter, CBA underscored the need for the CFPB to institute a level playing field among fintechs and banks who offer BNPL credit:

“Some users of [fintech BNPL] platforms lack the high level of protections they have come to expect from their bank, which — unlike a fintech provider — is subject to stringent federal oversight requirements. […] Momentum is building for policymakers to institute a level regulatory playing field and ensure all consumers are protected, whether they choose a fintech or bank to meet their financial needs.”

Recognizing the need for the Bureau to preserve access and choice for consumers as it considers future action, the letter went on to say:

“As BNPL products continue to grow in popularity and the industry continues to add products and services to meet consumer need, a measured approach to regulation will be necessary to preserve market options and to protect consumers’ interests.”

CBA Recommendations

CBA has advocated for policymakers to consider the following recommendations aimed at ensuring hardworking families may safely benefit from this financial innovation today, and for years to come.

Creditworthiness

Ensuring non-bank fintech providers are applying appropriate creditworthiness analysis will help strengthen the financial health of consumers and mitigate their potential for accumulating unwanted and unsustainable debt.

Disclosures

Although BNPL products fall outside the Truth in Lending Act, BNPL providers should provide a standardized, simple disclosure to ensure consumers are adequately informed of the terms of the products they are using.

Data Protection

The Bureau should examine whether fintechs are complying with pre-existing rules and procedures aimed at protecting the sensitive financial data of its customers.

The Bottom Line

As more Americans choose BNPL financing as a credit alternative, all consumers deserve the certainty of knowing they are receiving the highest level of protections, whether they choose a product issued by a fintech or a traditional bank. To achieve this, policymakers must institute a level regulatory playing field in the BNPL marketplace. Doing so will help ensure consumers can safely benefit from the features of this transformational banking innovation.

CBA Advocacy

  • To read CBA’s blog released earlier this week “How The CFPB Can Promote A Safe & Competitive BNPL Marketplace,” click HERE.
  • To learn more about the rapid growth of BNPL and the threat posed to consumers from under-regulated fintech providers, click HERE.
  • To read about why momentum is building for instituting a level regulatory playing field in the BNPL marketplace, click HERE