But it has been stalled by litigation and the Trump White House. The alternative version of his administration – released in 2020 – had no such requirement. Indeed, not much has changed yet for payday loans. Chopra will not only have to come back to this debate, but will also have to deal with how these small loans have continued to evolve.
Over the past decade, a series of new businesses have sprung up to allow workers to get advances on their paychecks, in exchange for compensation. Under Trump, officials have recommended that these so-called earned wage access products not be regulated as credit, but consumer and labor groups have urged Chopra to revoke those guidelines, which they say create dangerous payday loan loopholes. Chopra told me that the CFPB will “look into it closely” and that, more broadly, it is concerned about increasing employer debt, such as workers who take out loans for training, equipment or leads. “It’s a troubling trend,” he said, “and as the distinction between consumers and workers blurs, we’re going to be increasingly active in this space.”
Thanks to his CFPB debut, Chopra spent years as a close ally of Elizabeth Warren. “I have no doubt that you are the right person to lead the office at this time,” the senator said during his confirmation hearing last year. Thanks to that friendship, progressive advocates have been optimistic about the direction Chopra will take for the agency. “He is extraordinarily progressive, but was also one of the very few registered Democrats to have been confirmed by the McConnell glove in the Trump years,” noted Felicia Wong, president of the Roosevelt Institute, a think tank where Chopra worked. briefly as a scholarship holder.
Yet, as the payday loan jockey illustrates, it won’t be easy to enact reforms that can actually last, which may partly explain why Chopra’s early actions focused on brighter Big Tech issues. like Apple Pay or cryptocurrency. National consumer groups have placed their trust in the CFPB’s new director, thanks to his track record, but that goodwill may also have led to confused silence on the agency’s new debt collection rule, which was issued in the home stretch of the Trump administration and went into effect in November.