Paul Watkins, who formerly was in charge of  fintech initiatives in the Arizona Attorney General’s office, has been named by Acting Director Mulvaney to serve as Director of the Bureau’s Office of Innovation.

The Bureau’s press release indicates that the recently-created Office of Innovation will “focus on creating policies to facilitate innovation, engaging with entrepreneurs and regulators, and reviewing outdated or unnecessary regulations” and identifies the encouragement of “consumer-friendly innovation” as “a key priority for the Bureau.”  The new Office will take over the work that was being done under Project Catalyst, the initiative launched by the CFPB in 2012 for facilitating innovation in consumer financial products and services.

Earlier this year, the State of Arizona created the first “regulatory sandbox” in the United States which allows new financial technologies and products to be tested in a controlled environment with reduced regulatory risk.  Last month, Ballard Spahr attorneys held a webinar, “The Regulatory Sandbox – What it Means for Fintech Companies,” in which the topics included a discussion of the concept of a regulatory sandbox, the benefits and risks associated with using one, and what a possible sandbox created by the CFPB might look like.  Mr. Watkins was one of the webinar speakers and discussed the Arizona initiative.

We applaud the Bureau for the selection of Mr. Watkins to serve in this important position.