Policy Forum

Promoting Fintech Innovation and Consumer Choice: The Role of Regulatory Sandboxes

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Date and Time
January 17, 2019 11 AM - 12:30 PM EST
Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute
Featuring Paul Watkins, Director of the Office of Innovation, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Conan French, Senior Advisor for Innovation and Fintech, Institute for International Finance; Eric Mogilnicki, Partner, Covington & Burling LLP; Diego Zuluaga, Policy Analyst, Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives; moderated by Todd Zywicki, George Mason University Foundation Professor of Law, Antonin Scalia Law School and Senior Fellow, Cato Institute.

In today’s highly regulated financial system, launching new products and financial services businesses can be extremely challenging. To facilitate innovation and entry, some jurisdictions have created regulatory sandboxes — supervised halfway houses in which firms can test new products without being subject to the full burden of compliance with existing rules.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently announced such a program for U.S. consumer finance firms. The sandbox promises to increase innovation and lower costs for financial services used particularly by lower‐​income Americans. Yet there are concerns, on one hand, that sandboxes reduce consumer protection and, on the other hand, that they do not go far enough in addressing the challenge of excessive regulation.

The Cato Institute is pleased to welcome Paul Watkins, director of the Office of Innovation at the CFPB, to outline the Bureau’s new sandbox policy and revised No‐​Action Letter policy. Watkins, who pioneered the use of sandboxes at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, will explain how the bureau’s approach can encourage greater innovation in consumer finance. Eric Mogilnicki, a partner at Covington & Burling LLP, Conan French a senior advisor for Innovation and Fintech at the Institute for International Finance, and Diego Zuluaga, policy analyst at the Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, will comment. Professor Todd Zywicki, a Cato senior fellow, will moderate.