The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has announced the selection of Paul Watkins to lead the Bureau’s new Office of Innovation.
“I am delighted that Paul Watkins is bringing his deep expertise, track record of protecting consumers, and commitment to innovation to the Bureau,” Mulvaney said. “I am confident that, under his leadership, the Office of Innovation will make significant progress in creating an environment where companies can advance new products and services without being unduly restricted by red tape that belongs in the 20th century.”
The Office of Innovation, a recent creation by Mulvaney, aims to focus on encouraging consumer-friendly innovation, which is now a key priority for the Bureau, with work such as Project Catalyst transitioning to this new office. Intending to fulfill its statutory mandate to promote competition, innovation, and consumer access within financial services, the Bureau's new office will focus on creating policies to facilitate innovation, engaging with entrepreneurs and regulators, and reviewing outdated or unnecessary regulations, the statement said.
Watkins comes to the Bureau from the Arizona Office of the Attorney General, where he was in charge of the office’s fintech initiatives. He managed the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox, the first state fintech sandbox in the country, which allows a company limited access to the marketplace in exchange for relaxing some regulations. Watkins was also the Chief Counsel for the Civil Litigation Division. In that role, he managed the state’s litigation in areas such as consumer fraud, antitrust, and civil rights. Previously, Watkins practiced at Covington & Burling LLP in San Francisco and Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP in Palo Alto, California. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College and Harvard Law School, and a former clerk for Judge Dennis W. Shedd on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.