One of the first priorities for the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau, which opened its doors this summer, is writing rules for
regulating the activities of "non-banks" that still potentially affect
the financial well-being of consumers. The CFPB's goals include
creating a single regulator to define and guarantee basic consumer
protections across a wide range of financial institutions -- and even
many institutions that are not usually considered financial institutions
but that play a key role in the U.S. financial system nonetheless.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, the CFPB can regulate larger non-bank
"participants" in the financial system; and the agency has been seeking
comments on what financial markets to cover, how to define a "large"
participant, and what kinds of data it should be collecting to protect
consumers. Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and other online intermediaries
are playing an increasingly integral role in the financial world; and
the CFPB must first collect more data to measure what their impact is on
consumers and, secondly, write rules to protect those consumers.