CFPB Publishes Long Awaited Proposed Rule on Small Business Loan Data Collection

| By:

cfpbA 918-page proposed rule published by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (if you don’t know what this bureau is, now is a good time to read up), is finally out.

Its application is broad, extending to “loans, lines of credit, credit cards, and merchant cash advances,” the CFPB said today. Initially, the Bureau’s intent was to exclude merchant cash advances, but that has apparently changed. (side note: I predicted this could happen as early as 2014.) Meanwhile, “factoring, leases, consumer-designated credit used for business purposes, and credit secured by certain investment properties” are exempt from the rule.

The rule is designed to assess whether there are disparities in sex, race, and ethnicity, when it comes to small businesses being able to access credit.

Covered financing providers would have to request that applicants disclose these things, which applicants can refuse to answer if they so choose. It could get a bit awkward from there because “if an applicant does not provide any ethnicity, race, or sex information for at least one principal owner, the Bureau is proposing that the financial institution must collect at least one principal owner’s race and ethnicity (but not sex) via visual observation and/or surname if the financial institution meets in person with any principal owners (including meeting via electronic media with an enabled video component).

BUT “minority-owned business status and women-owned business status would only be reported on the basis of information the applicant provides specifically for Section 1071 purposes, and financial institutions would not be permitted or required to report these data points based on visual observation, surname, or any other basis.”

Further, no one involved in the underwriting of the loan or advance would be allowed to know or access the ethnicity, race, or sex of the applicant. However, this would not apply if it isn’t “feasible” to do so.

All of the nuances, which seem to contradict themselves on the surface level, are specified in greater detail in the 918 page document.

When the proposed rule becomes final, lenders and MCA providers would have 18 months before they would be required by law to not only collect this data in the properly established manner, but also be prepared to submit it annually to the CFPB.

This rule will become a standard operating part of the business for companies both large and small whether one agrees with it or not. This law was passed in 2010 and it has taken this long to get to this point. This is a link to the CFPB’s official summary.

Last modified: September 1, 2021
Sean Murray

Category: Regulation

Home Regulation › CFPB Publishes Long Awaited Proposed Rule on Small Business Loan Data Collection