Tag: FinTech

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CFPB Finalizes Extension of Prepaid Account Rule Effective Date
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FCA outlines FinTech and RegTech priorities for year ahead
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Blockchain Has a Perception Problem
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RegTech Association launches in Australia
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Bank of England Governor delivers wide-ranging FinTech speech
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Indonesia’s financial services authority issues its first FinTech regulations
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Retailer invests in FinTech
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UK FCA to publish consultation paper on new rules for investment and loan-based crowdfunding platforms
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European Commission launches Task Force on Financial Technology
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EU Fintech developments

CFPB Finalizes Extension of Prepaid Account Rule Effective Date

By Judith Rinearson and Eric A. Love

 On April 20, the CFPB issued a final rule to delay for six months the October 1, 2017 effective date of its comprehensive Final Rule amending Regulation E and Regulation Z as applied to prepaid accounts. The Final Rule will now become effective on April 1, 2018.

In announcing the delay, the CFPB indicated that it has decided to “revisit at least two substantive issues” in the Final Rule through a separate rulemaking process. Based on CFPB Director Richard Cordray’s recent testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, the two substantive issues most likely relate to: (1) the Final Rule’s applicability to “the linking of credit cards to digital wallets that are capable of storing funds,” and (2) error resolution for unregistered prepaid cards.  The CFPB can be expected to issue a proposal on these issues “in the coming weeks.”

Notably, the CFPB’s action could help to address concerns raised by Congressional Republicans about the scope of the Final Rule and its potential impact on industry participants and consumers, thus complicating ongoing efforts in Congress to repeal the Final Rule using the Congressional Review Act (CRA). In order to repeal the Final Rule utilizing the CRA, Congress would be required to pass a repeal bill by May 9, 2017.

FCA outlines FinTech and RegTech priorities for year ahead

By Jonathan Lawrence

The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently issued its Business Plan 2017/18 that deals with its FinTech and RegTech priorities for the year ahead. The FCA wants to engage more with regional and Scottish FinTech hubs. In its risk outlook, the FCA talks about more complex value chains that utilise FinTech posing a risk to consumer protection and market integrity. The issues associated with the oversight and controls of increasingly complex chains of third party relationships are reflected in the FCA’s priorities. The technological resilience of incumbent firms will also continue to be an area of focus because of the risk of disruption to financial markets. The FCA states that FinTech firms may not fully understand the scope of regulation and its impact on their business model. This could lead to cases of non-compliance with FCA rules, which could pose risks to consumer protection and market integrity. In addition, the FCA fears that greater reliance on technology poses increased operational risk, and risks to market integrity. The FCA believes that FinTech business models shift risk from financial firms to consumers without consumers fully understanding the implications or having adequate safeguards.

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Blockchain Has a Perception Problem

By Tyler Kirk

The International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) just wrapped up a panel on “FinTech and the Transformation of Financial Services” here in Washington, DC. Presenting 4 propositions, the IMF invited the panelists and the audience to vote on whether they agreed or disagreed with each. Following the panel’s discussion on each proposition, the votes were compared. To the exclusion of all other Fintech topics, there was an almost singular focus on blockchain in each panelist’s response to the propositions. This focus by itself is illuminating, however the audience and the panel diverged dramatically on one proposition, whether FinTech will help rather than hinder regulation of AML and combatting the financing of terrorism (“CFT”). The panel agreed, 92% to 8%, that FinTech would assist with AML and CFT efforts. The audience was essentially split, agreeing 57% to 43%. Similarly, 40% of the audience believed FinTech posed a threat to financial stability while only 17% of the experts shared that view. The takeaway here is that, while those of us who are intimately familiar with this technology clearly understand its benefits, the general electorate does not. So, does Congress? Financial regulators? Now is the time to engage counsel and shape public policy.

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RegTech Association launches in Australia

By Claire de Koeyer and Jim Bulling

Launching in March 2017 the RegTech Association is focused on “promoting the achievements, partnerships, collaborations, incubations and seeding of RegTech in Australia” through advocating, educating and supporting businesses in the sector. This is likely to involve facilitating engagement with industry stakeholders, advancing the use of technology and improving regulatory compliance outcomes.

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Bank of England Governor delivers wide-ranging FinTech speech

By Jonathan Lawrence

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has given a wide-ranging speech on FinTech which he delivered at the Deutsche Bundesbank G20 conference on 25 January 2017. It was entitled “The Promise of FinTech – Something New Under the Sun?”. Whilst recognising that FinTech’s true promise springs from its potential to unbundle banking into its core function, systemic risks will evolve. The challenge for policymakers is to ensure that FinTech develops in a way that maximises the opportunities and minimises the risks for society. Read More

Indonesia’s financial services authority issues its first FinTech regulations

By Jonathan Lawrence

Indonesia’s financial services authority (OJK) has issued its first regulations relating to FinTech. The regulations lay out minimum capital requirements, interest rate provision and education and consumer protection rules.

Every Indonesian FinTech P2P lending firm must now register and secure a business licence from the authority. A company must have Indonesian Rupiah 1 billion ($75,000) in capital to register, and a further Indonesian Rupiah 2.5 billion ($188,000) to apply for a business licence. These figures are approximately half those that had been proposed in previously issued draft regulations. Foreign ownership is limited to 85%.

No maximum interest rate has been set, which again contradicts previous drafts of the regulations which set a cap of seven times Bank Indonesia’s seven-day reverse purchase rate per annum.

Muliaman Hadad, chair of OJK, told the Jakarta Post that the regulation was only an initial step in the authorities’ efforts to regulate and supervise the business. “What’s important is they get onto our radar because we don’t want to regulate the prudential aspects hastily. We want to provide [business] transparency guidelines first,” Hadad said. The OJK also has implemented a regulatory sandbox for firms to test services for consumers.

Bank Indonesia set up a dedicated office and regulatory sandbox in November 2016 to help FinTech developers. It will also provide services to help developers to understand Indonesia’s regulatory policies on FinTech, gather and disseminate information on developments, and hold regular meetings with authorities and international bodies interested in the use of technology in finance, Bank Indonesia said.

For a full text (in Indonesian) of the regulations, please click here.

Retailer invests in FinTech

By Jonathan Lawrence

UK department store company House of Fraser is to invest £35m in Tandem, an app-only challenger bank. The move will enable House of Fraser to offer online banking services to shoppers.

Tandem was founded in 2014 and received its UK banking licence a year ago. It has already raised over $30m from investors, including eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar. Founded in 2014, Tandem raised £1m last year in a crowdfunding campaign, valuing it at £65m.

Tandem competes with other new app-only start-up banks, dubbed “neobanks”, including Monzo, Starling and Atom. It currently offers a savings tool that lets people monitor spending on any bank account. It began rolling out its app in November 2016 and plans to launch credit and debit products in 2017.

House of Fraser was acquired by Chinese conglomerate Sanpower in a £480m deal in 2014. While the company already offers credit and loyalty cards through NewDay, the ability to offer app-only online banking services is a departure that could see other UK retail multiples follow suit.

UK FCA to publish consultation paper on new rules for investment and loan-based crowdfunding platforms

By Tom R. Wallace

In December 2016 the UK FCA published a statement of its intention to publish a Consultation Paper in Q1 2017 proposing new rules for investment and loan-based crowdfunding platforms.

Based on information the FCA has gathered through a consultation ending in September 2016 and its supervision and authorisation of crowdfunding platforms, the FCA’s view is that aspects of the crowdfunding market currently pose some risks to its objectives. The FCA perceives risk of regulatory arbitrage in the loan-based sector, and potential for investors to misunderstand the nature of the products offered. While respondents to the FCA’s request for feedback rightly note that many of these risks existed when the FCA established the current crowdfunding regulatory framework in 2014, the FCA counters that the market has grown in significance and complexity since then.

While investment-based crowdfunding is facilitated entirely by fully-authorised firms, most loan-based crowdfunding firms, including the largest ones, have so far operated under interim permissions. The FCA notes that, while it has identified some issues about the investment-based crowdfunding market, most of its attention at this time is on issues in relation to loan-based crowdfunding.

Taken together with its other statements on the crowdfunding sector, the FCA is giving an indication of its perspective on the issues associated with the #crowdfunding market and, pending publication of consultations on the new rules, incumbents and innovators should take care to create legal, operational and compliance structures that are likely to align with the FCA’s direction of travel in this market.

The FCA frame this as an evolution of the existing regulatory framework, not a revolution, and I find the FCA’s depth of the knowledge about, objectives for and focus on the market to be a source of optimism for the future of the crowdfunding market in the UK for investors, incumbents and innovators.

European Commission launches Task Force on Financial Technology

By Jonathan Lawrence

On 14 November 2016, the European Commission launched an internal Task Force on Financial Technology (TFFT) that aims to assess and make the most of innovation in the FinTech area, while also developing strategies to address the potential challenges that FinTech poses. The work of this Task Force builds on the European Commission’s goal to develop a comprehensive strategy on FinTech. It appears to take a cautious approach. The launch statement warns that “technological development provides great opportunities for existing financial institutions, alternative service providers and new business models, provided that any risks are carefully managed”. This internal Task Force will bring together the expertise of European Commission staff across several areas, such as financial and digital services, digital innovation and security, and competition and consumer protection. It will also engage with stakeholders and present policy suggestions and recommendations in the first half of 2017.

Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said:

“we see technological innovation in finance as a development that we need to encourage and enable. It brings huge opportunities for consumers and for industry, both by established players and new Fintech firms. Our Task Force will help us make sure that our policy supports the pursuit of these opportunities, while addressing any risks that may emerge. Efficient financial markets need to make the best possible use of the opportunities that technology presents, while also preserving competition and making sure that new operating systems are safe.”

Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Günther H. Oettinger said:

“Digital innovation is transforming the entire economy and in particular the financial services sector. It disrupts business models and value chains, leads to the emergence of new players and services. The Digital Single Market strategy aims at laying down an appropriate framework and enabling solutions concerning for instance electronic authentication or cyber-security. Our ambition is to foster financial innovation while preserving financial stability and protecting consumers and investors.”

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