CFPB Investigating Third-Party Access to Customer Data

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is today launching a formal inquiry into obstacles consumers face in accessing and sharing with third parties personal financial records held by banks and other institutions.

The action by the bureau comes amid banking industry concern over a commonly used process called “screen scraping” in which consumers provide their online banking credentials to a third-party app or tool. While banks fully support consumers’ ability to extract and control personal financial data — and are working on ways to facilitate it safely — services that require customers to provide account credentials can introduce significant risks, including potential loss of consumer protections.

“Consumers should be able to use their financial records and account information and securely share access in an electronic format,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Technology provides opportunities to use these records to create new consumer tools that help improve financial lives. To realize that potential, we are launching a public inquiry into how much control consumers have over their records and how easy and secure it is for them to share their records with third parties.”

The bureau will commence its inquiry at a field hearing in Salt Lake City this afternoon where American Bankers Association VP Rob Morgan will represent the banking industry. Morgan’s testimony will focus on the development of alternatives to screen scraping that ensure security, promote transparency and enhance customer control. He will also urge the CFPB to avoid new regulation — which could stifle innovation — in favor of continued work by banks of all sizes and their technology partners toward protocols and methods of securely sharing data.

The CFPB today issued a request for information on several aspects of consumer data access and sharing, including current practices and potential market developments. Responses to the request will be due 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register.