Archive: 2018

1
Blockchain-Based Businesses Receive Legislative Boost!
2
New “Global Sandbox” Announced
3
“Responsible Innovation” or a “Regulatory Train Wreck”? The OCC Announces it will Accept FinTech Applications for Special Purpose National Bank Charters
4
US Treasury Report on Nonbank Financials, Fintech, and Innovation
5
Regulation of Crypto Asset Activities on the Abu Dhabi Global Market
6
South Carolina Is the Latest State to Implement Money Transmitter Licensing Laws and Regulations
7
Court of the Blockchain Announced
8
CFPB’s New Office of Innovation to be led by Arizona FinTech Regulatory Sandbox Official; Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain will likely be on the Agenda
9
P2P lending: UK rule changes
10
Crypto-Assets: FSB Report To The G20

Blockchain-Based Businesses Receive Legislative Boost!

By Cameron Abbott and Jessica McIntosh

The Midwestern state of Ohio has last week become one of the first states in the US to pass legislation which recognises the use of blockchain technology, and as a result blockchain data and transactions will now have legal bearing in the State of Ohio.

Governor John Kasich says the legislation was introduced with a clear focus, that is, to treat data and smart contracts stored through blockchain technology as electronic records and to promote the role of blockchain technology in a range of industries, not just through cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. This legislative boost will allow the use of blockchain technology in various sectors from real estate to health care.

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New “Global Sandbox” Announced

By Jonathan Lawrence

Twelve financial regulators and related organisations, including the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), announced on 7 August the creation of the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN), building on the FCA’s proposal earlier this year to create a ‘global sandbox’.  A list of GFIN members is here.  The network will seek to provide a more efficient way for innovative FinTech firms to interact with regulators.  It will also create a new framework for co-operation between financial services regulators on innovation related topics.

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“Responsible Innovation” or a “Regulatory Train Wreck”? The OCC Announces it will Accept FinTech Applications for Special Purpose National Bank Charters

By Rebecca H. Laird, Eric A. Love and Daniel S. Cohen

On July 31, 2018, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) announced that it will begin accepting applications from non-depository FinTech companies for special purpose national bank charters.   It’s a long-awaited announcement that represents the culmination of a two year process during which the OCC sought stakeholder feedback and public comment on the issue.

Among the notable points that the OCC makes in the policy statement are the following:

  • The OCC has the authority to issue special purpose charters to FinTech companies, an issue that was the subject of previously dismissed legal challenges brought by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) and the New York Department of Financial Services (“NYDFS”). In the policy statement, the OCC reiterates its position that the National Banking Act and OCC regulations (12 C.F.R. § 5.20) authorize the agency to grant charters to  non-depository FinTech companies that engage in at least one of the “core banking activities” — lending, paying checks or deposit-taking — in addition to the special purpose charters for trust/fiduciary activities;
  • The OCC’s decision will benefit consumers by encouraging “responsible innovation” in the banking industry. The OCC states that its decision will expand consumer choice, foster innovation in the banking sector, and “level the playing field” between regulated and non-regulated banking services institutions while ensuring FinTech companies operate safely and soundly;
  • FinTech companies will be held to the same standards and supervision as their similar non-FinTech counterparts, including requirements concerning capital, liquidity, and risk management. OCC-chartered FinTech companies will also be required to maintain a contingency plan for significant financial stress scenarios. The special purpose national bank will not be required to be FDIC-insured, since they will be non-depository institutions; and
  • FinTech companies may engage in any activity deemed to be permissible for a national bank.

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US Treasury Report on Nonbank Financials, Fintech, and Innovation

By Anthony R.G. Nolan

On Tuesday 31 July, the United States Department of the Treasury issued its report on Nonbank Financials, Fintech, and Innovation.  This is the fourth and last scheduled report on financial market regulatory reform in response to Executive Order 13772.  It makes about 80 recommendations for improvements to the regulatory landscape that will better support nonbank financial institutions, embrace financial technology, and foster innovation.

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Regulation of Crypto Asset Activities on the Abu Dhabi Global Market

By William M. Reichert and Zaid Abu-Shattal

Recent technological innovations are transforming how financial activites are conducted and regulated.  Technological advances have also resulted in disrupting traditional financial services and other related activities globally.  In response to this, the Abu Dhabi Global Market introduced its legal framework regulating spot trading of crypto assets, including activities carried on by crypto asset exchanges, crypto asset custodians, and, where applicable, intermediaries engaged in crypto asset activities.

Please see our latest thinking here for a full discussion of Abu Dhabi’s new crypto asset legal framework.

South Carolina Is the Latest State to Implement Money Transmitter Licensing Laws and Regulations

By Eric A. Love and Judith E. Rinearson

On May 25, 2018, South Carolina’s money transmitter licensing law, the South Carolina Anti-Money Laundering Act, and its implementing regulations (collectively, the “Act”) became effective.

This means that the newly established Money Services Division (the “Division”) within the SC Attorney General’s Office is now accepting applications for licensure to engage in money transmission and currency exchange in that state.  Entities that were engaging in such activities in South Carolina as of May 25 had until June 29, 2018 to submit an application.  After submission, such entities were able to continue operating while their applications were being reviewed.

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Court of the Blockchain Announced

By Jonathan Lawrence

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFCCourts have partnered with Smart Dubai to create what they say is the world’s first “Court of the Blockchain”. According to an announcement on 30 July, they will initially explore how to aid verification of court judgments for cross-border enforcement. They say they plan to create a blockchain-based court designed to streamline the judicial process, remove document duplications, and drive efficiencies. Future research announced will investigate handling disputes arising out of private and public blockchains and out of regulation and contractual terms encoded within smart contracts.

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CFPB’s New Office of Innovation to be led by Arizona FinTech Regulatory Sandbox Official; Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain will likely be on the Agenda

By Eric A. Love

On July 18, 2018, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) Acting Director Mick Mulvaney announced that Paul Watkins, who previously led the FinTech initiatives in the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, will head the CFPB’s newly created Office of Innovation. According to a CFPB press release about the selection, the Office of Innovation will replace the CFPB’s Project Catalyst initiative (which the CFPB launched in 2012) and will “focus on creating policies to facilitate innovation, engaging with entrepreneurs and regulators, and reviewing outdated or unnecessary regulations.”  Project Catalyst and the Office of Innovation share the stated overarching objective of promoting “consumer-friendly innovation” in consumer financial services.

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P2P lending: UK rule changes

By Jonathan Lawrence

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued its recommendations for changes to P2P lending regulations for loan-based crowdfunding platforms. Based on the FCA’s findings it invites responses to rule changes for loan-based firms which cover proposals to:

  • ensure investors receive clear and accurate information about a potential investment and understand the risks involved;
  • ensure investors are adequately remunerated for the risk they are taking;
  • provide transparent and robust systems for assessing the risk, value and price of loans, and fair/transparent charges to investors; and
  • promote good governance and orderly business practices.

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Crypto-Assets: FSB Report To The G20

By Jonathan Lawrence

The Financial Stability Board (FSB) has published a report to the G20 on the crypto-assets work of the FSB, Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures (CPMI), International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS).

IOSCO confirms its belief that crypto-assets and platforms do not a pose global financial stability risk, nonetheless they raise other significant concerns (potentially needing further regulation) regarding investor protection, market integrity and money laundering. IOSCO suggests that it could work more closely with BCBS and CPMI for payment coin exchanges, which could be viewed more as spot market exchanges/payment infrastructures.

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