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Feds Aim to Return Financial Data Rights to Consumers

It’s no secret that every aspect of the human experience is somehow turned into data for use by companies, but this is especially true in banking where it tracks how payments, deposits, services, which products are used—and who provided all those services—only to turn around and monetize this data one way or another. 

Knowing this, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has proposed new options to strengthen consumers’ access to and control over their financial data as a first step before issuing a proposed data rights rule that would implement section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act. 

According to a release from the CFPB, under the options the CFPB has proposed, consumers would be able to more easily and safely walk away from companies offering bad products and poor service and move towards companies competing for their business with alternate or innovative products and services. 

“Dominant firms shouldn’t be able to hoard our personal data and appropriate the value to themselves,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “The CFPB’s personal financial data rights rulemaking has the potential to jumpstart competition, giving Americans new options for financial products.” 

The intended goal of the new rules is the create a marketplace where companies would need to improve their offerings to keep their customers. Lenders would be able to use consumer-authorized data to build and widely offer products and services that can compete with established companies. Consumers could switch providers to get a better deal or escape poor customer service, and companies would have to keep and attract customers through competitive prices, high-quality services, and improved products. 

The CFPB cites the current environment as the case for these changes: under current rules, companies hoard vast troves of data, which include which financial products you use. 

“By monopolizing the use of personal financial data, financial institutions are able to block competitors’ access to potential customers and stifle development of competitors’ products and services,” the CFPB said. “In addition, data protection concerns have contributed to a lack of trust among market participants, and a growing sense of powerlessness among the general public. Clear data rights for consumers have the potential to give individuals more bargaining leverage.” 

To be clear, no changes have been implemented yet the CFPB release said, but if enacted after a public comment period, the rule would require firms to make a consumer’s financial information available to them or to a third party at that consumer’ request. 

“As described in the outline, the CFPB is considering proposals, for instance, that would empower consumers who want to switch providers to transfer their account history to a new company, so they do not have to start over if they are unsatisfied with the service provided by an incumbent firm,” the CFPB concluded. “The CFPB is also considering proposals that would include important options around privacy for personal financial data authorized for third party use, including limitations that would prevent third parties from reselling authorized data for other uses.” 

Written comments can be submitted here. Feedback should be sent no later than January 25, 2023. 

Click here to read the release in its entirety. 

About Author: Kyle G. Horst

Kyle G. Horst is a reporter for DS News and MReport. A graduate of the University of Texas at Tyler, he has worked for a number of daily, weekly, and monthly publications in South Dakota and Texas. With more than 10 years of experience in community journalism, he has won a number of state, national, and international awards for his writing and photography including best newspaper design by the Associated Press Managing Editors Group and the international iPhone photographer of the year by the iPhone Photography Awards. He most recently worked as editor of Community Impact Newspaper covering a number of Dallas-Ft. Worth communities on a hyperlocal level. Contact Kyle G. at [email protected]
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