Consumer Groups Call for Fairness in BigTech Payment Systems
65 Groups Call on Consumer Bureau to Take Action to Prevent Fraud
This week, 65 consumer, civil rights, faith, legal services, and community groups submitted comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in response to its inquiry into certain business practices of six large technology companies operating payments systems in the United States. The groups urged the CFPB to require person-to-person (p2p) payment providers to protect consumers from fraud and errors, and to work with the Federal Reserve Board to ensure protections are in place before the Fed launches its new FedNow p2p service.
“Tech companies must take responsibility when their payment apps allow fraud and errors and they give scammers a way to receive money. In today’s world of fintech and innovation, it is ironic that the primary response to fraud and errors in p2p systems is to use old-fashioned disclosures and warnings to consumers to ‘be careful,’” said Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center.
The CFPB inquiry comes as so-called “BigTech” companies expand their reach into financially lucrative consumer payment systems.
“Big Tech companies are eagerly expanding their empires to gain greater control and insight into our spending habits,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We have ordered them to produce information about their business plans and practices.”
The CFPB’s work is one of many efforts within the Federal Reserve System to make payments safer, faster, and more competitive. The initial orders were sent to Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, PayPal, and Square. The Bureau will also be studying the payment system practices of Chinese tech giants, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.
The letter from the consumer groups noted:
“The existing person-to-person payment systems of large technology companies and financial institutions simply are not safe for consumers to use. Scams often take the last dollar from those least able to afford it, and often target older adults, immigrants and other communities of color. These communities, already denied or stripped of wealth through discrimination over the centuries to the present day, can least afford to lose money to scams and errors.”
The groups encouraged the CFPB to take the following actions to protect consumers: