Why Pro-Competition Consumer Finance May Not be Pro-Consumer Consumer Finance

Under Rohit Chopra, consumer protection has taken an important, widely-overlooked turn with potent consequences for all retail financial-product providers.  Media coverage of the CFPB’s bigtech order, mortgage-discrimination action, and last week’s anti-overdraft campaign highlighted traditional issues such as fair lending and predatory pricing. These are indeed in the CFPB’s sights, but so also is a much bigger target: the extent to which a few large companies are said to be able to set consumer interest rates and otherwise dictate the shape of U.S. retail finance. This might cut big banks down to the puny size their critics seek, but it’s more likely to accelerate the transformation of retail finance into a wild west of unregulated providers outside the reach of safety-and-soundness standards and, in many cases, even of the CFPB. If this pro-competition campaign is mis-calibrated, the CFPB will put consumers at still greater risk.