Fintech executive sworn in as California's top financial regulator

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Manuel Alvarez, the former general counsel and chief compliance officer at Affirm Inc. was sworn in Monday as commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight.

He succeeds Jan Lynn Owen, who had headed the agency since it was created six years ago.

The Department of Business Oversight regulates both banks and nonbank lenders in the nation’s largest state. It is the product of a 2013 merger of the Department of Corporations and the Department of Financial Institutions.

Because many fintechs are based in Silicon Valley, the California agency plays an important role in the sector's regulation.

Alvarez worked most recently as the top legal officer at San Francisco-based Affirm, an online lender headed by PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.

From 2011 to 2014, Alvarez was an enforcement attorney at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Earlier, he worked as a deputy attorney general in California and as an associate at Dentons LLP.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat who was elected in November, tabbed Alvarez as the state’s top financial regulator in March.

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