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WASHINGTON – Last week, both progressive Democrats and conservative Republicans were united in calling for hearings on the stock-trading app Robinhood after it froze trading of several stocks, including GameStop, at the expense of retail investors and to protect the financial interests of established hedge funds. 

Congress’ first test of whether it is serious about the issues raised by the Gamestop-Robinhood matter is right around the corner: who will the Biden administration nominate to serve as the next Comptroller of the Currency, and what questions will the Senate ask of that nominee?

Right now, it appears the new administration favors several fintech-linked individuals for crucial financial regulatory positions, which could translate to lenient oversight over the industry for years to come. Significantly, fintech industry consultant and University of Michigan administrator Michael Barr is the reported frontrunner to serve as the next Comptroller of the Currency, a crucial national bank regulator. 

Barr advises a fintech-focused venture capital fund, previously advised controversial fintech firms Ripple and LendingClub, and advises the fintech-funded think tank Alliance for Innovative Regulation.

The Comptroller of the Currency is not an obscure role. In fact, this office will serve as one of the primary regulators determining the rules of the road for fintech companies like Robinhood, including questions of data privacy, consumer harm, oversight, money laundering, and their ability to partner with megabanks and other Wall Street players.

The Robinhood-GameStop controversy highlights how fintech will pose serious and unique regulatory challenges to the Biden administration in the coming four years. Members of Congress who are raising the alarm about Robinhood and fintech generally would be wise to ask any potential nominees tied to the fintech industry, like Michael Barr, the following questions during their confirmation hearings:


[1] AOC and lawmakers call for hearings on Robinhood for freezing trades on GameStop stock - CNET ➤[2] National Bank Charters for Fintech Firms ➤