The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will hold public hearings on March 25-26 in Washington, DC, on “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.” Titled, “The FTC’s Role in a Changing World,” the hearings pose downstream risk to the fintech community, especially to smaller enterprises that may lack the resources and knowledge to comply with any complex new regime.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons has made it clear as recently as earlier this week in comments made in a meeting with the state attorneys general that he supports comprehensive privacy legislation that would make his agency the primary enforcement and regulatory vehicle.

At the upcoming hearings, the focus will be on both sides of the FTC “house,” competition and consumer protection. This is an indication that the chairman’s vision encompasses using all of the commission’s tools without regard to substantive legal underpinning.

The chairman also made it clear that he supports giving state attorneys general the authority to enforce a new federal privacy law and we anticipate that some number of attorneys general will participate in a speaking role at the upcoming hearings.

Fintech businesses ought to pay close attention to these hearings and ensuing developments as new authorities mean new rules and new rules mean more burdens on innovation and increased expenses, all of which go to the bottom line.