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Volume XII, Number 272

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CFPB Plans to Increase Regulation over “Buy Now, Pay Later” Lenders

The Consumer Financial Protect Bureau (CFPB) issued a release on September 15, 2022, announcing its intent to issue additional interpretive guidance or rules to ensure “Buy Now, Pay Later” (BNPL) lenders comply with the same or similar regulations already established for credit cards following a study on the industry.

In its press release, the CFPB Director Rohit Chopra noted the rapidly growing use of “Buy Now, Pay Later is a rapidly growing type of loan that serves as a close substitute for credit cards.” While credit cards include interest charges, BNPL loans do not, making them more attractive to consumers. Instead, these loans allow consumers to purchase a product and repay the purchase price through several installment payments. As a result, BNPL loans have become prominent over the past several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. These previously niche loans, typically used for apparel and beauty purchases, are now used in almost all consumer-facing industries.

The CFPB noted several highlights of BNPL loans found through the study, which include:

  • Increased loan approval rates year over year;

  • Increased occurrences of late fee charges;

  • Increased product returns by consumers; and

  • Shrinking profit margins by BNPL lenders.

As a result of the study, the CFPB outlined the following concerns with the BNPL industry, mainly because the marketing of these loans leads consumers to believe the loans are a “zero-risk credit option.”

  • Limited Consumer Protections: While BNPL loans are used as an alternative to credit cards, they lack the standard credit disclosures, dispute resolution rights, etc., that similar consumer credit transactions often require.

  • Data Harvesting: Lower profit margins associated with BNPL loans have pushed the industry to monetize consumer data, potentially impacting consumer privacy.

  • Debt Accumulation: According to the CFPB, BNPL loans encourage consumers to purchase more products and borrow more, resulting in consumers becoming overleveraged. While the CFPB notes that the lenders in this space do not furnish credit data to credit reporting companies, the CFPB is concerned about this industry extending credit to consumers who may not be able to repay the debt.

Takeaways

The CFPB has yet again reinforced its commitment to regulate lenders that extend consumer credit. The CFPB’s decision to either enforce existing consumer laws (i.e., the Truth in Lending Act disclosures already required for credit cards and other consumer loans) or create new rules on the growing BNPL industry is not unexpected. However, the CFPB’s release shows a renewed focus on protecting consumers’ privacy rights and ensuring that consumers can afford to repay their credit lines before offers of credit are extended, and demonstrates once more that the Bureau will seek to regulate emerging forms of consumer credit.

© 2022 Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 265
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About this Author

David T. Long Jr. Associate Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Associate

David Long counsels clients in complex banking and financial services matters in both state and federal courts across the country. Based upon the specific needs of his clients, he advises individuals and corporate clients on their claims and outlines strategies to achieve the best result for each client.

David also has extensive experience representing and advising multinational corporations to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.

*Admitted only in Virginia; practicing law in the District of...

202-719-8239
Andrew J. Narod Financial Lawyer Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP
Partner

Andrew Narod is an experienced litigator who represents bank and non-bank financial services institutions and other types of businesses in class-action litigation, complex commercial litigation, and other high-profile litigation disputes nationwide. His clients entrust him to navigate some of their most sensitive litigation matters in some of the most difficult venues in the country.

A considerable amount of Andrew’s practice is devoted to representing bank and non-bank financial services entities in class-action litigation and other consumer litigation matters. His clients include...

202-719-8271
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