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CFPB launches mobile financial services inquiry
WASHINGTON (6/12/14)--The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has launched an inquiry into opportunities and challenges that come along with the use of mobile financial services. To that end, the CFPB is seeking comment from a variety of stakeholders about their use of such services.
 
"By accessing the Internet, downloading certain applications, or using text messaging, people can now complete most of their transactions and a great deal of their financial management by using their phones and other mobile devices," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Consumers are using their devices to pay bills online or send funds to other consumers or businesses. More and more they are engaged in mobile banking, using their phones as tools to access their existing accounts at a bank or credit union or some other type of financial institution."
 
Cordray cited one independent researcher that estimated approximately 74,000 users per day began using mobile financial services last year. In initiating the request for information on those services, he said the bureau is specifically looking for information on:
  • Whether using mobile devices opens up financial services and money management options for millions of unbanked consumers, particularly low-income and younger populations, and whether these options are cheaper than traditional financial services.
  • How mobile products and services can be a tool to help consumers manage money in real time financial decisions are being made. According to a Federal Reserve study, 69% of mobile banking users said they checked their account balance before making a large purchase, and half decided not to make the purchase because of their account balance.
  • What types of customer service or technical assistance are available to consumers when they use mobile products, especially if a mobile product is the only access to their financial institution. The bureau is also seeking information on any additional protections consumers may need when they lose their device or if they get cut off from the cell or Internet service on their device.
  • What kind of information companies are collecting on consumers, whether it is being disclosed to consumers and how that information is used, especially for low-income consumers. The bureau is also examining whether data breaches are more common on mobile devices as compared to traditional computers.
Comments will be accepted by the bureau through Sept. 9.

The CFPB will hold a field hearing in New Orleans on mobile financial services today at 11 a.m. (ET). The event will feature remarks by Cordray, as well as testimony from consumer groups, industry representatives and members of the public.

Use the resource link below for the CFPB's official request for information.
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