Apple faces inquiry as Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as investigates ‘big tech payment platforms’

Apple is among a handful of tech companies being ordered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in the US to provide detailed information about the payment platforms it offers to consumers. For those unfamiliar, the CFPB is a US government agency that “makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.”

In the notice sent to the companies today (via Seeking Alpha), CFPB direct Rohit Chopra explains:

Today the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ordered six technology platforms offering payment services to turn over information about their products, plans and practices when it comes to payments. The orders were issued to Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Square, and PayPal. The CFPB will also study the practices of the Chinese tech giants that offer payments services, such as WeChatPay and Alipay. 

Chopra adds that the CFPB is primarily focused on the privacy practices of these technology companies when it comes to financial information:

Little is known publicly about how Big Tech companies will exploit their payments platforms. For example, will the operators engage in invasive financial surveillance and combine the data they collect on consumers with their geolocation and browsing data? Will they in turn use this data to deepen behavioral advertising, engage in price discrimination, or sell to third parties?

Apple, of course, puts a much larger focus on privacy than competitors like Google and Facebook. The CFPB investigation “will help to inform regulators and policymakers about the future of our payments system.”

Apple currently offers a handful of financial products, including Apple Card, Apple Pay, and Apple Cash. The investigation seems to be more focused on Apple Cash, as that is the platform that allows you to send and receive money with friends and family.

You can read the full letter from Chopra right here.

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