AFSA Attends Credit Visibility Symposium

AFSA staff attended the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection’s (BCFP) Building a Bridge to Credit Visibility Symposium on Sept. 17, the focus of which was using innovation to build economic opportunity.

The heads of several different BCFP offices, as well as other experts, spoke during the all-day event. Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the BCFP, made a surprise appearance. He emphasized that the Bureau is still doing fair lending. “You may have read a bunch of things or seen a bunch of things saying we are out of that business, and nothing could be further from the truth,” he said, adding, “I hope that you take this symposium as evidence of that. We are still very much in the fair lending business and we going to remain active in that space.”   

Symposium speakers offered a wealth of information. One speaker discussed that the only way to make $3,500 loans at a low interest rate was to do so as a non-profit. Another mentioned that 20% of secured-credit cardholders end up with problems paying off the card. Someone else talked about the benefits to credit life insurance, specifying that the benefits only applied if the term of the loan was over a year.   

Paul Watkins, who recently joined the Bureau as the head of the Office of Innovation, stressed the role that innovation can play in consumer protection. William Wade-Gery, who serves as the Director for the Bureau’s Office of Card, Payment, and Deposit Markets, talked about the need to think more about electronic disclosures. The rules for paper disclosures don’t always work well in an electronic format.

The Bureau released a study during the symposium entitled, Data Point: The Geography of Credit Invisibility

One of the interesting conclusions noted in the study is that proximity to a bank branch is not an important factor in explaining why consumers are “credit invisible.”

 

The Bureau plans to host another symposium next year and welcomes ideas for a theme.