Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Eyes Tech Sprints to Accelerate Advancements

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The hope is to rapidly identify technological solutions for the agency’s toughest problems. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is exploring tech sprints as a means to accelerate innovation across its regulatory and compliance landscape—and it wants the public to weigh in on the gatherings’ potential to drive modernization, according to a request for information published in the federal register Wednesday. 

“The integration of technology and regulatory compliance has the potential to harness technological advances to reduce burden, improve results, and create greater efficiencies across financial markets that can ultimately reduce consumer costs,” agency officials said in the publication. “The expertise of vendors, regulated entities, academia, and community groups can help regulators understand the benefits and risks of such technology.”

In recent years, government stakeholders in the United States and the United Kingdom have leveraged tech sprints to brainstorm and develop solutions to some of their toughest technical challenges. Sprints essentially bring together small teams of subject matter experts, technologists, public and private sector luminaries and other stakeholders for short periods of time to hyper-focus on finding actionable tech-centered solutions to some of the world’s most perplexing problems. 

The bureau, which is ultimately tasked with ensuring America’s financial institutions are fair to its citizens, aims to embrace the events as “model[s] for collaborative innovation.” In the RFI, insiders note that the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority conducted seven of their own since 2016. Now, FCA is implementing a pilot project on digital regulatory reporting that was initially ignited at a tech sprint. The bureau also provides insight into how other agencies have leveraged such engagements to boost their internal advancements. Health and Human Services Department, for example, organized a sprint that addressed critical healthcare challenges by applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to federal data. The Census Bureau also recently unleashed its own. 

“At the end of the sprint, products launched and often moved on to full development as tools for the public,” the bureau said.  

It’s particularly interested in organizing tech sprints to: identify the most suitable emerging technologies for better evaluations and oversight to all the bodies it supervises, explore new approaches to securing data access and exchange across the agency, minimize compliance burdens, manage new and evolving risks, and leverage automation and cloud solutions to better meet its mission, among other goals.

The bureau asks respondents to answer a variety of questions, including what regulatory compliance problems and procedures could be improved through a bureau tech sprint, any recommendations they have regarding the planning, participants, duration and location for the events and whether there are any concerns that might keep people from participating if the bureau goes forward with hosting a sprint. 

“Other than organizing tech sprints, what else might the Bureau do to encourage innovation in financial products and services? For example, could advances be encouraged by changes to certain Bureau rules or policies?” it also asked.

The deadline for feedback is set for Nov. 8.