What the Biden administration could mean for financial policy, consumer spending, and small businesses

  • President Joe Biden has assumed his role as the 46th US president.
  • We've outlined what his presidency could mean for the wider payments industry as well as consumer spending and small business recovery. 
  • Insider Intelligence publishes hundreds of insights, charts, and forecasts on the Payments & Commerce industry with the Payments & Commerce Briefing. You can learn more about subscribing here.

President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday and officially assumed his role as the 46th president of the US. As he begins his tenure and waits for his cabinet to be approved by the Senate, there's already early indication that his policies could have quick implications for the payments space.

Here's what some of President Biden's recent moves might mean for players across the payments and commerce space:

  • The president appointed a new director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), who may tighten regulation. President Biden tapped progressive ally Rohit Chopra, a current commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission, to lead the CFPB. Chopra—who also helped launch the CFPB and previously served as the agency's assistant director—is reportedly looking into reinstating policies that were softened or phased out by former President Trump's CFPB appointees. Chopra's past work indicates that, with him at the helm, the CFPB may tighten consumer protection laws in ways that impact fee structures—perhaps for card companies—and increase consumers' access to financial offerings like lending services.
  • He also nominated Janet Yellen to lead the US Treasury Department, who may favor pandemic relief policies but hinder digital currency growth. Yellen has said that the government must "act big" with its next coronavirus relief package and that the benefits of stimulus funds far outweigh the costs. President Biden has already signaled plans to introduce a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that includes $1,400 direct payments for consumers. And though the plan is facing some pushback, Yellen's argument is underscored by the 8.7% uptick in personal consumption expenditures last May following the first round of stimulus payments. Separately, Yellen also recently suggested that lawmakers should curtail the use of cryptocurrencies amid concerns of illicit activities, indicating that the Biden administration might look to tighten its grip on digital currencies just as they become more popular.
  • President Biden's leader pick for the Small Business Administration (SBA) and planned small business aid could provide a lifeline for cash-strapped businesses. Isabel Guzman—President Biden's pick to lead the SBA—will have her work cut out for her as US businesses continue to struggle to keep their doors open: 82% of US adults said that small business aid should be a "top" or "important" priority for the new presidential administration, according to a poll by Morning Consult. The second coronavirus stimulus relief package included $280 billion for small businesses, with the SBA already approving more than $5 billion in relief loans for it so far. The president's new coronavirus relief plan includes $35 billion for small business financing, which could provide a further boost for small businesses in need of capital.

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