In December 2018, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settled an enforcement action with Wealthfront, one of the industry’s leading robo advisors. This came after Wealthfront made false statements about its software’s ability to implement a ‘tax-loss harvesting’ strategy. Wealthfront failed to properly execute the strategy, resulting in losses to a significant number of clients. Wealthfront ultimately agreed to pay a $US 250,000 penalty.Read More
By Jim Bulling and Luke Camilleri
On 1 February 2019, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced its participation in the recently created Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN). The GFIN is comprised of 29 regulatory bodies from jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, Singapore and the United Kingdom. The GFIN was established to:
- act as a network of regulators to collaborate and share experiences of innovation in respective markets, including emerging technologies and business models, and to provide accessible regulatory contact information for firms;
- provide a forum for joint regtech work and collaborative knowledge sharing; and
- provide firms with an environment in which to trial cross-border solutions.
A report has been published summarising the findings from research by ICAEW (The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) and ISCA (Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants) into FinTech in London and Singapore. The two cities show the importance of tailoring detailed measures to reflect local differences. Singapore, for example, puts stronger emphasis on collaboration between start-ups and the established sector, and acts as a gateway to new markets across Southeast Asia. By contrast, in London, there is more of a push for start-ups to disrupt the incumbents in financial services and more focus on the challenges of scaling up FinTech businesses.Read More
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has launched its Green FinTech Challenge. This is aimed at firms developing green financial technology solutions that need specific regulatory support to bring their proposition to market. The Challenge is designed to support innovation and growth in the Green Finance sector as part of the UK government’s Green GB Week which started on 15 October 2018.
Firms that require specific regulatory support are invited to apply. The Challenge will provide support to a selection of firms developing innovative products and services to assist in the UK’s transition to a greener economy. It is open to start-ups, incumbents and technology providers.
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.
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.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has signed a FinTech Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with professional services company Accenture. Under the MoU, FinTech Hive at DIFC – the first financial technology accelerator in the Middle East region – will collaborate with Accenture’s FinTech Innovation Labs in New York, London and Hong Kong, to share resources and knowledge on research and trends in FinTech. In line with the DIFC Growth Strategy 2024 and Dubai Vision 2021, FinTech Hive gives financial companies access to technologies to support their digital transformation while providing innovators with access to potential clients and investors.
On May 24, 2018, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting indicated during a press call that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (“OCC”) will release guidance in July 2018 on whether it will move forward with issuing a special purpose charter to FinTech companies. According to press reports, Comptroller Otting had previously indicated that the OCC hasn’t yet made a final decision about issuance of a FinTech charter, although he had also signaled that guidance from the OCC on the matter could be released as early as June. His more recent comments during the press call extend this timetable by a month.
On 9 May 2018, the Australian Government confirmed their decision to establish an Australian Open Banking regime and implement the recommendations set out in the Farrell Report titled “Review into Open Banking in Australia”. This follows the Government’s report into Open Banking released in February 2018 which broadly supported the creation of a new data-sharing regime in the financial services industry. The Australian Government has set aside roughly $45 million over four years to develop the creation of a Consumer Data Right which includes the establishment of the Open Banking framework.
By Cameron Abbott and Sarah Goegan
Technology company IOT Group announced this week that it has signed an Australian first energy and blockchain deal. In the agreement with Hunter Energy, IOT Blockchain will build a blockchain centre at the Redbank coal-fired power station in the Hunter Valley, two hours north of Sydney.