Rob Gruppetta, Head of the Financial Crime Department at the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), recently gave a speech at the FinTech Innovation in Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Digital ID regional event, London about “Using artificial intelligence to keep criminal funds out of the financial system”. He considered whether machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) techniques could help. Better transaction monitoring is not the only way AI can aid the fight against money laundering. The Financial Stability Board (FSB) published a report on 1 November about the impact of AI that identified other ways it can help. Examples include AI-driven anti-impersonation checks that evaluate whether photos in different identity documents match, and using machine learning to identify customers that may pose a higher risk and so warrant, say, a deeper probe into the sources of their wealth.
By Cameron Abbott and Harry Crawford
With 2017 at a close, US banks have set out their 2018 FinTech new year resolutions. According to American Banker, US banks are likely to focus their FinTech investment in 4 major areas in 2018:
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning
- Open banking
- Cybersecurity and biometrics
- Commercial banking innovation
By Eric A. Love and Dan S. Cohen
With Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney in place as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and a legal challenge to his appointment to that position brought by CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English continuing to proceed through the courts, prepaid industry participants are rightly asking what this ongoing leadership dispute means for the CFPB’s sweeping Final Rule amending Regulation E and Regulation Z as applied to prepaid accounts.
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) released a consultation paper on 12 December 2017 seeking feedback on its fintech licensing exemption, also known as the regulatory sandbox. Following comment, ASIC will review whether the exemption is operating as intended, and consider whether it should be broadened or changed in any other way.
The licensing exemption allows eligible businesses to provide certain financial products and services for up to 12 months without a valid Australian Financial Services or credit licence. Contrary to the strategy of the UK Financial Conduct Authority, ASIC does not take an active approach in selecting applicants and negotiating individual terms for each entity using the exemption.
Andrew Bailey, the Chief Executive of the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), recently gave an interview to the BBC in connection with bitcoin. In remarks on 14 December, Mr Bailey said that he currently sees no systemic risk in bitcoin and is not pushing the UK government to make the cryptocurrency part of the FCA’s regulatory remit. He emphasised that investors should be prepared to lose everything if they buy bitcoin, however as long as people understood the risks of what he termed “a very volatile commodity”, he would not press the UK government to legislate that the FCA regulate it. He said “I don’t think bitcoin is prevalent enough at the moment to be a systemic threat in the way we experienced during the financial crisis other threats; it needs watching carefully but I don’t think we’re there yet… If I thought there was evidence of people saying: ‘You know what I’m going to put my pension into? bitcoin!’ I’d be very concerned, but we don’t see that at the moment.”.
By Rizwan Qayyum
The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has released a feedback statement on the Distributed Ledger technology discussion paper from April 2017 (DP17/3).
As a part of this, they commented on ICOs, noting:
“On the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) market, the FCA will gather further evidence and conduct a deeper examination of the fast-paced developments. Its findings will help to determine whether or not there is need for further regulatory action in this area beyond the consumer warning issued in September”
The feedback is available here.
The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has announced a new Cooperation Agreement with the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), a year after entering into a similar agreement with the Ontario Securities Commission. The CSA is made up of the following Canadian regulators:
- Autorité des marchés financiers (Québec);
- British Columbia Securities Commission;
- Alberta Securities Commission;
- Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan;
- Manitoba Securities Commission;
- Financial and Consumer Services Commission (New Brunswick); and
- Nova Scotia Securities Commission.
The UK Treasury recently published its Investment Management Strategy II Report. Building on its 2013 strategy report ‒ which mainly focused on how to improve the UK as a fund domicile ‒ this report sets out the UK government’s strategy to build upon the success of the UK’s investment management industry in the long-term.
One chapter is devoted to FinTech. The government is keen to see FinTech and asset management firms utilising the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) Project Innovate, engaging early with the regulator to gain tailored regulatory support and test innovative products in a safe place. It also encourages the sector to take advantage of the FinTech bridges established between the UK to its global partners. Since 2015, the government has established four ‘FinTech Bridges’ – with Singapore, the Republic of Korea, China and Hong Kong. FinTech Bridges provide opportunities for firms to scale up their UK FinTech innovations, internationally. By establishing links between government, regulators and private sectors, FinTech bridges reduce the barriers to entry in a new jurisdiction and link UK FinTech firms to international investment opportunities. The UK’s FinTech Bridges all contain regulatory co-operation agreements negotiated between the FCA and their regulatory counterparts.
On December 11, 2017, the SEC released a cease-and-desist order against a purported “utility token” sold by Munchee Inc. (“Munchee”) and a statement by Jay Clayton on Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings. Two takeaways:
- The SEC will scrutinize so-called “utility tokens” under the Howey test, and Chairman Clayton believes that most token sales he’s seen constitute securities offerings. The familiarity of the Munchee utility framework to other token offerings coupled with Chairman Clayton’s Statement could very well chill the market for utility tokens seeking to avoid application of federal securities laws.
- The SEC expects intermediaries operating in crypto, specifically law firms, accountants, consultants and broker-dealers, to be “gatekeepers” of investor protection.
We will be providing a fuller analysis in the next several days.
The UK Treasury is looking to regulate cryptocurrencies. Stephen Barclay, the economic secretary to the UK Treasury, recently answered a Parliamentary question as to what steps his department was taking to regulate (a) Bitcoin and (b) other cryptocurrencies. Mr Barclay answered that the UK government is currently negotiating amendments to the European Union (EU) Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive that will bring virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers into Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation, which will result in these firms’ activities being overseen by national competent authorities for these areas. He said that the UK government supports the intention behind these amendments. They expect these negotiations to conclude at an EU level in late 2017/early 2018. This development follows a recent UK Financial Conduct Authority warning on cryptocurrencies.