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Consumers Beware

Rohena Rajbhandari ’22 has won first place in the ABA’s 2021 Consumer Protection Committee Law Student Essay Contest. The award includes a $5,000 scholarship and publication of the work in an ABA publication.

“Finding Venmo: Applying Consumer Protection Regulations to Peer-to-Peer Payment Platforms” is the first to address critical consumer abuses prevalent in peer-to-peer (P2P) payment platforms, such as Venmo. It proposes four basic actions that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should take to safeguard consumers who use them.

Consumers have increasingly turned to P2P platforms to transact in a contact-free world. The topic took on fresh importance for Rajbhandari as the Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated the detrimental effects of abuses by constricting consumers’ financial flexibility. She was led to her conclusions through a survey of state and federal consumer protection laws, including the CFPB’s 2019 Prepaid Account rule implicating digital wallets.

“I am honored to be selected for this award,” Rajbhandari said, “and I would like to thank Professor Patricia McCoy for suggesting the topic and serving as a wonderful resource during the research and writing process.” McCoy, a prominent scholar in financial services regulation, helped to form the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when she was at the US Department of the Treasury in the mid-2000s.

According to McCoy, Rajbhandari’s article shines an overdue light on little-recognized consumer protection issues with popular platforms such as Venmo.

The Consumer Protection Committee, in its website announcement of this year’s recipients, noted that Rajbhandari is a staff writer on the Boston College Law Review. She interned at the US District Court for the District of Columbia after her first year of law school and worked as a fall extern at the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts. Prior to law school, she was a paralegal at the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice.  Rajbhandari will join the Washington, DC, office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as a summer associate upon completing her second year. 

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