DWT Consumer Financial Services team members Adam Maarec and Allison May attended last week's Annual Symposium of Women in Housing and Finance, which focused on the impact of financial technology. A few of the most notable comments are summarized below.
Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, explained how blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionize the clearing process for securities and that, by serving as a central database of record for multiple parties to rely upon (in the securities industry and beyond), significant efficiencies can make the clearing process faster and cheaper.
Jo Ann Barefoot discussed regulatory perspectives on innovation with Amy Friend, Senior Deputy Comptroller and Chief Counsel at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Ms. Friend noted that the OCC has encouraged national banks to determine how financial technology can impact their institutions, including the use of mobile phones to reach consumers where branches aren't present. She also indicated that the OCC is considering establishing an office focused on financial technology that would serve as a central point of contact for banks seeking consultations and approvals on the use of new technologies and for examiners to gain substantive expertise on financial technology. Ms. Friend noted that the OCC is not likely to develop a process to approve new technologies comparable to the CFPB's No Action Letter Policy; rather, she indicated that regulators need to coordinate their approaches to new financial technology.
Doug Lebda, the founder and CEO of Lending Tree told the audience of his company's mission to establish a marketplace for lenders to compete on common, clear terms for consumers. He noted that problems still exist in this type of marketplace, including a lack of transparency, lack of differentiation on customer service, and a lack of consumer understanding of credit terms and credit scores. Many other stakeholders provided their perspectives on financial innovation, including one bank and several non-bank financial services providers, trade associations, and regulators.