CFPB Launches Auto Finance Knowledge Pilot in Unstable Market

In November of 2022, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it could be launching an auto finance knowledge pilot program to gather and analyze extra knowledge from the trade. After assembly with numerous stakeholders over the next months, the bureau released a statement detailing the launch of this system on February 23, 2023. 

The announcement comes at a essential time for automotive finance. A fast drop within the worth of used automobiles following all-time excessive sticker costs has left hundreds of thousands of individuals underwater on their automobile loans. Continued hikes to the federal funds fee imply that auto mortgage rates of interest hold going up. These points and others are a part of a rapidly-evolving finance market that’s sparking issues amongst regulators.

Automoblog spoke with officers on the CFPB on an informational name in March to be taught extra about this system, the explanations for launching it, and its targets. Right here’s what we discovered.

What’s the CFPB Auto Finance Knowledge Pilot?

In brief, the CFPB auto mortgage knowledge pilot is a brand new program designed to gather extra detailed knowledge in regards to the auto finance trade. This system was first introduced in November 2022.

an infographic showing what kind of information the cfpb auto loan pilot will collect represented as four red icons

To gather that data, the CFPB is working immediately with 9 shopper auto lenders. In line with a CFPB press launch, these 9 lenders symbolize a cross-section of the auto finance market, so their knowledge ought to present a well-rounded view of the trade.

The Pilot Addresses a Variety of Points with Auto Mortgage Knowledge

One of many major causes for launching the pilot, in line with our supply and the CFPB press launch, is the present lack of information round auto lending. With an estimated $1.5 trillion in excellent mortgage debt within the U.S., auto lending is the third-largest shopper credit score class behind mortgages and pupil loans. 

However regardless of the dimensions of the market, the CFPB says that there’s a massive hole between the quantity of knowledge they’ve about mortgages and pupil loans and what they’ve about auto loans. Monetary analysts and regulators have lengthy had detailed details about mortgage lending, and the federal authorities administers pupil loans, so it has direct entry to that knowledge. Compared, details about auto lending is comparatively sparse.

In its press launch, the CFPB recognized a number of points with the present state of automotive finance knowledge. The group broke down the three areas that stakeholders indicated may benefit from further knowledge visibility: knowledge granularity, consistency, and high quality; mortgage efficiency traits; and lending-related points, akin to the usage of sure applied sciences. 

Lending Channel Variations

One of many key points with the current auto lending knowledge is a scarcity of segmentation. Auto mortgage knowledge isn’t sometimes damaged down by whether or not a borrower funds a purchase order by way of direct or oblique lending. 

In a direct lending mannequin, the borrower works with a lender to safe the funds wanted to make a purchase order or refinance a mortgage. Oblique lending refers to when a automobile seller finds financing for the borrower.

The variations between these lending channels by way of mortgage phrases, rates of interest, and different particulars may be substantial. Because of this, the dearth of differentiation in knowledge assortment makes it tough to achieve a nuanced understanding of the mortgage market with respect to those channels. With the information pilot, the CFPB can analyze these channels individually.

Knowledge Granularity, Consistency, and High quality

Our supply on the CFPB stated {that a} normal lack of granularity round mortgage knowledge is one other downside that they hope to unravel with the pilot. Loans are individualized in nature. Lenders base charges and phrases on debtors’ credit score scores and different components. But these granular particulars should not all the time accounted for in auto finance knowledge, muddying the outcomes.

The shortage of consistency and ranging high quality of that data can be an impediment to analysts and regulators. In line with the CFPB, this is because of how auto mortgage knowledge has been collected and distributed till now. 

A lot of the information round auto loans is proprietary – or, owned by a non-public get together. This creates a number of issues for analysts and regulators. The shortage of a centralized knowledge set signifies that simply gathering automotive mortgage knowledge is extra time-consuming and tough than it’s in different industries.

But it surely additionally signifies that there may be variations within the phrases and definitions events use of their knowledge assortment and evaluation. Totally different suppliers might, for instance, have various rating ranges for credit score classes. One supplier might outline the “prime” class as starting from 660 to 719, whereas one other might outline that class as starting from 640 to 700. Because of this, one supplier’s knowledge set can be incompatible with the opposite’s with out controlling for these variations.

By making a centralized knowledge set, the pilot program can enhance the standard and consistency of obtainable auto finance knowledge. 

Mortgage Efficiency Developments

With auto mortgage default charges nearing all-time highs, mortgage efficiency is a key difficulty for the CFPB. The shortage of dependable data on repossessions was a key level within the bureau’s February press launch. This consists of data akin to how lengthy a mortgage is late earlier than a automobile is repossessed, or how lengthy a borrower has paid on a mortgage earlier than their automobile is repossessed.

However the press launch additionally signifies an curiosity in additional particular details about which debtors are dealing with increased default and repossession charges. It mentions a necessity for extra knowledge across the correlations between delinquency charges and demographic components akin to credit score rating, geography, and revenue, in addition to how repossession impacts debtors and lenders.

Associated Lending Points

The scope of the pilot extends past knowledge about auto loans themselves. Adjoining points akin to the usage of GPS monitoring and starter-interrupt units by lenders are additionally an space of curiosity for the CFPB. 

Via this analysis, the bureau may achieve extra perception into how and the way typically these applied sciences are utilized by lenders and sellers. It may additionally present perception into the impression they’ve on legal responsibility, privateness, and safety issues.

What the CFPB Auto Finance Knowledge Pilot Means For You

The brand new knowledge pilot remains to be in its infancy. Officers on the CFPB are solely starting to gather what’s going to absolutely be a large quantity of information about automotive finance. And even when that knowledge is collected, it could be a while earlier than most of the people has entry to it.

Automoblog was instructed that originally, the findings from the pilot received’t be made publicly out there. Nevertheless, the CFPB might publish abstract details about its key findings after conducting its evaluation. 

The gathering and centralization of higher-quality, extra constant, and extra granular finance knowledge will present helpful perception into the nation’s third-largest credit score market. Down the highway, these insights may finally assist the CFPB and others to craft laws to assist defend debtors from predatory lending practices and different risks associated to auto loans.

Within the opening paragraph of its February 23 press launch, the CFPB known as out the disproportionate impression of the current rise in auto mortgage delinquencies and the affordability disaster on individuals with decrease incomes and credit score scores.

“Current knowledge present a rise in auto mortgage delinquencies, significantly for low-income shoppers and people with subprime credit score scores,” it says. “Some shoppers might even be getting priced out of the present market.”

The auto finance knowledge pilot may assist the CFPB higher perceive these traits. Finally, that knowledge might assist it enhance them.