The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Tuesday that it will hold a public hearing May 10 in Los Angeles on small-business lending, an area likely to spark concern from bankers.

The consumer agency typically releases proposed rulemakings on the same day as a field hearing.

The CFPB has only partial oversight of small-business loans as the enforcer of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibits discrimination in credit contracts on the basis of race, national origin, sex and other factors.

CFPB Director Richard Cordray.
In March, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a speech that the bureau envisions "a market free from discrimination and where consumers have equal access to small-business lending." Bloomberg News

The push into small-business loans comes after calls last year by House Democrats and consumer groups to speed up the implementation of small-business disclosure requirements. The agency recently cited small-business loans as one of nine top priorities over the next two years.

In March, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a speech that the bureau envisions "a market free from discrimination and where consumers have equal access to small-business lending."

The requirements on small-business loans, similar to reporting mandated under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, are meant partly to assess whether lending patterns reflect fair and equitable treatment or possibly discriminatory practices.

Bankers are concerned that the agency could subject small-business lending to other areas of its jurisdiction such as unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices.

The hearing will feature remarks by and testimony from a panel of consumer advocates and industry representatives, with questions taken from the public.

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