Paul Watkins

Mr. Watkins 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. While at the CFPB, he helped found the Global Financial Innovation Network and served on its coordinating committee alongside international 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. There, 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.

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 LLP during the financial crisis. He clerked for Judge Dennis W. Shedd on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his undergraduate degree from Hillsdale College.


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