Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection Announces Director for Office of Innovation

Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney 7/18/18 announced he has selected Paul Watkins to lead the Bureau’s new Office of Innovation.

“I am delighted that Paul Watkins is bringing his deep expertise, track record of protecting consumers, and commitment to innovation to the Bureau,” said Acting Director Mulvaney. “I am confident that, under his leadership, the Office of Innovation will make significant progress in creating an environment where companies can advance new products and services without being unduly restricted by red tape that belongs in the 20th century.”

Acting Director Mulvaney recently created the Office of Innovation to focus on encouraging consumer-friendly innovation, which is now a key priority for the Bureau. The work that was being done under Project Catalyst will be transitioned to this new office. The Bureau intends to fulfill its statutory mandate to promote competition, innovation, and consumer access within financial services. To achieve this goal, the new office will focus on creating policies to facilitate innovation, engaging with entrepreneurs and regulators, and reviewing outdated or unnecessary regulations.

Watkins comes to the Bureau from the Arizona Office of the Attorney General, where he was in charge of the office’s fintech initiatives. He managed the FinTech Regulatory Sandbox, the first state fintech sandbox in the country, which allows a company limited access to the marketplace in exchange for relaxing some regulations. Watkins was also the Chief Counsel for the Civil Litigation Division. In that role, he managed the state’s litigation in areas such as consumer fraud, antitrust, and civil rights. Previously, Watkins practiced at Covington & Burling LLP in San Francisco and Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett LLP in Palo Alto, Calif. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College and Harvard Law School, and a former clerk for Judge Dennis W. Shedd on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

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