Payments and Digital Commerce

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) made headlines last week by taking action against Dwolla, an online and mobile payments platform. The CFPB imposed a $100,000 penalty against Dwolla, and while the dollar amount of the penalty may appear to be small compared to other civil money penalties, the action is significant because it is the first action the CFPB has taken in the data security area and provides insight into future enforcement activities surrounding data security by the CFPB. It also serves as a notable reminder of the CFPB’s broad enforcement powers, which go beyond financial institutions to non-FI companies that deliver financial products and services to consumers. While the CFPB lacks authority over the substantive data security requirements that are enforced by the federal financial regulators, that poses no obstacle to the CFPB’s ability to take an action, like this, initiated under its authority to police “deceptive” acts or practices.

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