In a webinar hosted by the Innovative Payments Association last week, Christina Tetreault, the new leader of the Office of Financial Technology and Innovation (OFTI) within the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI), gave us a glimpse of the OFTI's purpose, function, and initial goals. Tetreault also welcomed discussion and questions from the audience about the role of the OFTI.

Tetreault emphasized the OFTI's focus on outreach and engagement. To that end, she is leading efforts to collect as much feedback from a broad range of individuals, including industry stakeholders and consumers, concerning the issues underlying financial services technology and innovation. She even invited webinar participants to submit meeting requests and shared her direct email address.

From experience, she has been happy to schedule discussions and hear how the OFTI can be effective and encourage responsible innovation in California. Tetreault plans to create a streamlined intake process directly from the OFTI's website, once the site is launched.

According to Tetreault, the OFTI hopes to facilitate useful conversations across the DFPI. And though the OFTI is not completely insulated from DFPI's enforcement role, its goal is to help create opportunities for discussions early on, before enforcement is an issue.

The OFTI will also start several research initiatives on prominent issues in its early days, once it becomes more fully staffed. Currently, Tetreault anticipates the earlier research endeavors will look at COVID-19 impacts and related trends within the financial technology space, including how fragmentation in payments has impacted consumers.