U.S. consumer watchdog eyeing Big Tech, lending competition as recovery unfolds -testimony


FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) headquarters in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Rohit Chopra, will tell lawmakers on Wednesday the agency seeks to minimize foreclosures on struggling American homeowners and ensure "greater competitive intensity" in consumer lending, according to his prepared testimony.

The agency will also aim to scrutinize Big Tech as it gains greater control over money flows and will sharpen its enforcement focus on firms that repeatedly violate consumer finance laws.

A champion of American borrowers tapped by President Joe Biden to help address inequities in lending, Chopra's first hearing as CFPB director on Wednesday to members of the House Financial Services Committee is expected to outline an ambitious agenda amid the ongoing economic fallout from the coronavirus.

"The CFPB will use its tools to promote an equitable and inclusive recovery," Chopra will tell the panel.

I hope to focus attention on ways to stimulate greater competitive intensity in consumer financial markets and sharpen my focus on repeat offenders, particularly those that violate agency or federal court orders."

He added the agency will keep a close eye on practices that might impede competition by taking note of "the obstacles small local financial institutions face when seeking to challenge dominant incumbents, including in Big Tech."

Analysts expect he will use the CFPB's sweeping authority to probe the financial marketplace and flex significant enforcement muscles.

(Reporting by Katanga Johnson and Pete Schroeder in Washington, D.C.; Editing by Chris Reese)

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