July 19, 2018

CFPB Office of Innovation to Be Headed by Arizona Fintech Sandbox Leader

1 min

Under new management, "Project Catalyst" was recently transitioned to the Office of Innovation. The Bureau launched Project Catalyst in 2012 to facilitate innovation in consumer financial products and services. According to the Bureau's press release, "the new office will focus on creating policies to facilitate innovation, engaging with entrepreneurs and regulators, and reviewing outdated or unnecessary regulations."

The Bureau has tapped Paul Watkins to lead the Office of Innovation, highlighting Watkins' former position with the Arizona Office of the Attorney General, where he was in charge of the Arizona AG's fintech initiatives. Watkins managed the office's FinTech Regulatory Sandbox—providing for a reduced and streamlined regulatory regime for fintech companies operating on a limited basis.

The announcement has been viewed as a move by the Bureau to actively endorse the concept of a "sandbox" for regulatory relief for new ideas, and has the potential to couple deregulatory efforts with an affirmative "no action" letter process built on the Bureau's 2016 policy.