Fintech trade groups merge, recruit more members

Fintech companies are joining a new trade group called the American Fintech Council to lobby Washington lawmakers and set standards for their industry.

The group, which debuted March 3, added 10 new members to its roster on Monday, including Varo and Green Dot. It also launched a Community Advisory Board intended to help promote responsible practices in the fintech industry.

“The American Fintech Council is poised to play a critical role in the US regulatory landscape,” Colin Walsh, founder and CEO of Varo, said in a press release.

Varo, headed by CEO Colin Walsh, is one of about 50 companies that have joined the American Fintech Council and pledged to cap loans at 36% APR, among other standards.

The Washington-based organization was formed with the merger of the Marketplace Lending Association and Online Lending Policy Institute. The group says its goal is to promote policies that benefit consumers and foster responsible innovation, financial inclusion and racial equity.

“Joining these two organizations together will allow us to build on our complementary strengths and create a unified voice for all industry stakeholders committed to helping hardworking families take control of their financial health,” Cornelius Hurley, professor at Boston University School of Law and executive director of the Online Lending Policy Institute, said in a separate release.

The American Fintech Council’s more than 50 members span digital banks, online lenders, robo advisers and other types of fintech firms. They include the lenders Affirm, Figure, LendingClub and Prosper; the credit bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion; and the banking-as-a-service provider Cross River.

Members must adhere to a set of standards, including capping loans at an annual percentage rate of 36%, following the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights from the Responsible Business Lending Coalition, and demonstrating transparency in products and fees.

On its website, the council also expresses support for regulations that prevent discrimination in algoirthms, a bill that would provide debt relief for people hit hard by the pandemic and more.

The Community Advisory Board is made up of consumer advocacy groups, community development financial institutions and academic organizations, including the Woodstock Institute and the Capital Good Fund.

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