Paul N. Watkins is Managing Director at Patomak Global Partners. In this role, he focuses on state and federal regulatory issues surrounding FinTech, including payments, consumer and small-business lending, open banking, data privacy, and digital assets.
His regulatory background includes designing the first state and federal FinTech sandboxes, consumer-protection enforcement, securities-litigation defense, and helping to found the first international and domestic regulator networks promoting innovation in financial services.
Mr. Watkins joined Patomak from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he founded the Office of Innovation, and was the Bureau Director’s primary advisor on innovation. He designed the Bureau’s policies on no-action letters, trial disclosures, and compliance sandbox tests. He signed Bureau letters issued under those policies on topics ranging from mortgages to small-dollar loans, and co-authored Bureau statements on alternative data, and artificial intelligence. His team co-led the Bureau’s advisory opinion policy, and tech-sprint efforts. While at the CFPB, he helped found the Global Financial Innovation Network and served on its coordinating committee alongside regulators from such agencies as the Financial Conduct Authority, Hong Kong Monetary Authority, and Australian Securities and Investments Commission. He led the founding of the American Consumer Financial Innovation Network, which includes a bi-partisan membership of seventeen state Attorneys General and banking regulators. Mr. Watkins also served on the Financial Stability Oversight Committee’s subcommittee on digital assets.
Before joining the CFPB, Mr. Watkins led the Civil Litigation Division of the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, where he managed the state’s enforcement of consumer protection, data privacy, antitrust, and civil rights laws. He supervised numerous multistate and individual enforcement actions against companies ranging from Theranos to leading financial institutions, credit reporting agencies, and technology companies. He routinely built multistate Attorney General coalitions in the consumer protection and amicus brief context. He designed legislation establishing Arizona’s FinTech Sandbox, which became the model for other state-based FinTech sandboxes. He also drafted one of the first U.S. laws defining utility tokens.
Mr. Watkins has spoken frequently on FinTech, including at Harvard Law School, Zhejiang University, Money 2020 USA and China, Lendit, and trade association or agency-sponsored conferences. He has led training seminars on consumer protection for state Attorney General chief deputies, and has spoken to state Attorneys General at the Attorney General Alliance, and Republican Attorneys General Association.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Watkins was an M&A and capital markets associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, as well as a securities litigation associate at Covington & Burling during the financial crisis. He clerked for Judge Dennis W. Shedd on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College, and Harvard Law School.