Gonzalez Pushing Consumer Safeguards for Electronic Banking

Article excerpt

Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez called Wednesday for aggressive congressional action to protect consumers in the emerging world of electronic banking.

Releasing a blueprint for legislative action, the Texas Democrat urged Congress to:

* Adopt public policy standards relating to privacy, disclosure, access, equity, and financial reliability for electronic banking products and services.

* Hold oversight hearings to assess how well the industry is serving the consumer in these five areas.

* Enact laws if the industry's performance falls below minimum congressional standards.

* Define financial transactions to include the exchange of financial information as well as cash.

* Consider revising current consumer protection laws. "Many of the federal consumer protection laws are nearly 30 years old, and they were not designed to deal with the effects of these new technologies," said Rep. Gonzalez, the House Banking Committee's ranking minority member.

The report, "Connecting Consumers: Consumer Issues and Emerging Financial Technology," recommends subjecting banks and nonbanks to the same laws and regulations in this area.

Republican committee members and banking regulators have been reluctant to issue rules that might hinder the development of new electronic banking products. But Rep. Gonzalez argued against delay. …