On 27 September 2017, Fintech Melbourne in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Trade hosted an event on FinTech regulation with the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Director of Policy David Geale.
Interesting points from the night included:
- The FCA has been, and continues to be, actively involved in engaging in dialogue with industry participants, both large firms and smaller start-ups.
- As with other global regulators, the FCA is currently focused on blockchain, its potential effect on the market and the FCA’s role. The FCA released a discussion paper on distributed ledger technology earlier this year
- The FCA recently issued an initial coin offering consumer alert.
- The number of firms applying for the FCA’s regulatory sandbox exceeded initial expectations.
- Some of the more interesting concepts that David has seen come through the sandbox put existing technology to a different use such as alternative credit scoring methods (eg using social media) and connected insurance (eg using fitbit data to determine insurance premiums).
- Some UK firms have been experimenting with using videos to convey regulatory disclosures.
- Digital identity and open banking are areas of interest going forward.
The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) issued guidance on initial coin offerings (ICOs) on 29 September. FINMA has observed a marked increase in ICOs conducted in Switzerland. It has therefore published FINMA Guidance 04/2017 on this topic. FINMA has also indicated that it is investigating a number of ICO cases to determine whether Swiss regulatory provisions have been breached.
FINMA observes that the structuring of ICOs from technical, functional and business standpoints varies markedly from offering to offering. ICOs are currently not governed by specific regulations, either globally or in Switzerland. Swiss legislation on financial markets is principle-based; one such principle is technology neutrality. Collecting funds for one’s own account without a platform or issuing house is unregulated from a supervisory perspective in cases where repayment is not obliged, payment instruments have not been issued and no secondary market exists.