In recent years, the popularity of FinTech companies, or those that rely on technology to provide financial services, has boomed. According to Forbes, investment in FinTechs totaled $3 billion in 2013; by 2015, just two years later, global FinTech investment for the year totaled more than $20 billion.
With FinTechs causing such a disruption in the financial services market, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has taken notice. On Monday, the CFPB issued its first-ever Project Catalyst report to highlight market developments that can potentially benefit consumers. Those developments included improved mortgage servicing platforms and expanding responsible access to credit.
The report includes developments from both emerging FinTech startups and traditional financial services institutions, and highlights Project Catalyst’s work to ensure that consumer protections are included in emerging products and services from the start.
“Innovation has enormous potential to improve the financial lives of consumers,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “At the same time, market developments cannot skirt the need for strong consumer protection. Through Project Catalyst and other Bureau activities, we are working to expand our own knowledge and to foster a consumer financial marketplace where emerging products can be developed that are safe and beneficial for consumers.”
Evolving technologies have driven rapid change in the financial marketplace, an environment that can pose both benefits and risks to consumers, according to CFPB. The Bureau is seeking to foster a market where new innovations and emerging products are safe and beneficial for consumers, and the CFPB’s Project Catalyst initiative is designed to encourage consumer-friendly innovation. One of the top priorities for Project Catalyst is to more closely engage with companies, entrepreneurs, and other stakeholders that are most involved in innovation in the financial marketplace, according to CFPB.
Project Catalyst’s report noted that many companies are looking to adopt or build more modern technology platforms that provide more flexibility and scalability than legacy platforms, in order to improve mortgage loan servicing. The report found that some companies are building platforms that feature more user-friendly interfaces, and others are looking at machine learning for early detection of when borrowers are likely to suffer financial distress so that steps may be taken in order to prevent the borrower from defaulting.
Also, the report found that a number of innovators are seeking to expand responsible access to credit by looking to alternative forms of data or newer methods of analyzing the data to assess an applicant’s creditworthiness. The CFPB estimates that 45 million American adults either have no credit history or not a sufficient enough credit history to generate a credit score. A lack of a sufficient credit score has been cited as one of the major barriers to obtaining a mortgage loan.
Additionally, Project Catalyst found some FinTechs that are working to improve customer engagement around credit reporting and address issues in credit reporting accuracy. One company is working to streamline the process that would allow consumers to dispute errors on their credit reports, and others are modeling actions that consumers can take to improve their credit standing. Other companies are offering consumers more information about their credit report on a more regular basis, according to the CFPB.
Click here to view the entire report.