Competition Policy in Consumer Financial Services: The Disparate Regulation of Online Marketplace Lenders and Banks

Thomas P. Brown and Molly E. Swartz, March 20, 2016

In October 2014, Washington D.C. City Council passed legislation that effectively allowed Uber to operate in the District. David Plouffe, formerly an advisor to the President and now an executive with Uber, greeted the new legislation with the following observation:

Obviously what we’re doing doesn’t necessarily in all cases fit in existing regulation. I think that’s what Washington really wrestled with and decided they needed to chart a new pathway forward. So rather than say how do we fit this new technology and service into existing regulations, let’s look at how do we create new regulations that give citizens of the city the right kind of confidence on things like safety, on things like insurance.

Uber is just one of many startups struggling to fit their businesses into existing regulatory frameworks. As technological innovation leads to new business models, there is increasing friction between these new companies and the existing regulatory regime.

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