Buy Now, Understand Later: Consumer Understanding and Use of Buy Now Pay Later Offers

The Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) market has grown dramatically in recent years and the providers of these services promote them as being fast, easy, and free. Although BNPL is not currently regulated at the federal level, the state of California has required some BNPL providers to apply for licenses, abide by state lending laws, and has fined providers for making unregulated loans to consumers. Despite California’s move to require some BNPL providers to comply with its existing lending laws, it remains unclear how much consumers know about their rights when using BNPL, or how they view and use these products. This panel will explore the findings from a consumer survey that evaluated consumer knowledge and usage about BNPL products in California and will discuss policy and product implications that BNPL products have on consumers.

 Engines of Inequality: How Race Impacts Vehicle Ownership

This panel will discuss the way that race impacts every aspect of vehicle ownership, from purchasing and paying for the car, to acquiring and paying for insurance, and in the way fines and fees disproportionately impact persons of color. Panelists will discuss research, government enforcement actions and policy perspectives on each part of the consumer experience in vehicle ownership and how consumers of color acutely experience harm to a greater degree at every turn.

Investor Protection in the Digital Age: The Convergence of Technology and Conflicts of Interest

Investment firms are increasingly using technologies, such as digital engagement practices, predictive data analytics, and artificial intelligence to interact with investors. They often do so through trading apps or online platforms and are increasingly incorporating these technologies into investment advice programs. While the use of such technologies can be beneficial to investors in providing greater market access, efficiency, and returns, to the extent that firms use these technologies to advance their own interests instead of investors’ interests, investors can suffer harm. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently proposed rules to require firms to eliminate or neutralize conflicts of interest associated with the use of these technologies. This panel of experts will discuss the market trends that have given way to concerns regarding technology-based conflicts, how firms can align the use of technology with investors’ interests, and the appropriateness of the SEC’s proposed rule in response to these considerations.

Managing Housing Finance Risk in the Face of Escalating Climate Disasters

The US mortgage market is no stranger to systemic risk. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the Dodd-Frank Act expanded oversight and regulations in the financial sector to better protect consumers. However, as climate change is turning once-a-century events into semi-annual recurrences, the US housing system is increasingly facing new kinds of risk. From flooding in coastal areas, to extreme draughts, and escalating hurricanes, many neighborhoods in the United States are vulnerable. This panel examines how climate change is posing new risks to the housing finance system, with a focus on residential mortgage markets. Bringing together experts from a wide variety of backgrounds, we will discuss how climate change may reverberate through the US housing system – from the local impacts on homeowners and communities, to underwriting and risk strategies taken by mortgage lenders, and the broader, new risks absorbed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We will conclude by discussing what kinds of regulatory and policy strategies could best mitigate these climate risks and protect consumers.

AI Accountability in Financial Services 

Companies are increasingly relying on artificial intelligence to automate decisions or process in consumer financial services. Federal agencies have taken action to ensure that these innovations are responsible and equitable, and that consumers are not harmed by their use. This panel will discuss the concerns expressed by agencies, the acute harms that consumers experience, and the response taken by the agency to ensure that this conduct is effectively monitored and federal laws are enforced.

Convenience vs. Risk: Consumer Protection in Non-Bank Financial Apps

In the ever-evolving landscape of financial technology, the emergence of non-bank financial apps offers consumers new ways to access banking services, often with flashy features in sleek apps, but also in ways that differ significantly from conventional banking services. As consumers increasingly turn to these platforms for financial services, questions arise as to what these differences mean for consumer outcomes and protections. How do non-banks’ banking apps alter financial transactions? What benefits and risks do they bring, and what concerns should be front of mind for advocates? Are existing regulatory frameworks equipped to ensure consumer protection and data security? As these apps continue to gain prominence, it’s critical to understand their offerings, how they interact with consumers, and whether current regulatory oversight is sufficient to address the risks they pose. A panel of experts will discuss the unique aspects of non-bank financial apps and explore the questions they pose for consumers, advocates, and other stakeholders

Federal and state policy makers and regulators continue to address pressing banking, insurance, investment, and real estate issues affecting consumers, after more than two decades of financial services deregulation and reregulation. To keep consumer advocates and educators informed about these issues, the Consumer Federation of America presents an annual conference on financial services, planned with the assistance of consumer groups and the financial services industry.

The Financial Services Conference is a key national gathering for consumer advocates and educators interested in new products and regulation which continue to transform the consumer financial services marketplace.

Questions? Please contact Anna Marie Lowery, Director of Meetings and Events.

View Last Year’s Financial Services Conference Here

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