EE.UU.: tarjetas prepago y tutela del consumidor

El Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), cuya creación e iniciativas he hecho referencia en anteriores ocasiones, es el órgano encargado de la tutela de los intereses financieros de los consumidores estadounidenses. A través de su página web anunció su intención de proponer una futura regulación de las tarjetas de prepago (también conocidas como tarjetas recargables o “monedero electrónico”). Se trata de un producto que acredita un considerable crecimiento en los últimos años en el mercado norteamericano: 

 “Prepaid cards look in many ways just like a debit card linked to a bank account. While these cards share similarities, there are important differences between them. Today, we’re beginning the process of considering what rules should apply to general purpose reloadable (GPR) cards, a rapidly growing segment of prepaid cards. From this point on, we will use “prepaid card” to refer to this type of product.
More than 7 million consumers use prepaid cards. The prepaid card market is growing rapidly, with the total dollar value of funds loaded to prepaid cards expected to grow at an average annual rate of 42% from 2010 to 2014”.
Las tarjetas de este tipo presentaban un similar crecimiento en España, aunque de acuerdo con la estadística que ofrece el Banco de España, en los últimos años se ha producido una disminución de su uso.
Volviendo a Estados Unidos, se observa que a pesar de su constante y relevante expansión, este tipo de tarjetas queda fuera de las normas actuales de tutela de la clientela bancaria:
This is a product that many consumers use and rely on, perhaps not realizing that prepaid cards are not subject to federal rules that protect consumers who use similar types of products, such as bank account debit cards. As the market continues to grow, we want to learn more about the costs, benefits, and risks so that we can determine what protections are needed and what consumers need to know to make the best decisions for themselves”.
Según explica el citado organismo, su propósito es elaborar una nueva normativa, para lo que solicita por medio de la consulta pública las opiniones de los interesados sobre distintas cuestiones. Éstas, junto con los demás elementos que concretan esta iniciativa, pueden consultarse íntegramente aquí. Transcribo el párrafo introductorio:
“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB or the Bureau) is seeking comment, data, and information from the public about general purpose reloadable (GPR) prepaid cards (GPR cards). GPR cards are a prepaid financial product that have been increasing in popularity and that some consumers now use in a manner similar to a debit card that is linked to a traditional checking account. The Bureau is particularly interested in learning more about this product, including its costs, benefits, and risks to consumers. The Bureau intends to issue a proposal to extend the Regulation E protections to GPR cards. Your comments, in conjunction with other outreach and analysis, will help the Bureau better understand and evaluate any potential consumer protection issues raised by the current design, marketing, and use of this product. This advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) asks ten broad questions about GPR cards”.
Madrid, 5 de junio de 2012