On March 6th, the Chamber of Digital Commerce held its Fourth Annual D.C. Blockchain Summit. SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo headlined the event. After the cheers for “Crypto Mom” and “Crypto Dad” died down, Commissioner Peirce and Chairman Ginacarlo shared their general views on next steps for digital asset regulation and principles by which regulators should oversee emerging financial technologies.Read More
The Australian Federal Police are investigating two members of the Bureau of Meteorology’s IT team for allegedly running an operation in which they made use of the Bureau’s powerful computers to “mine” cryptocurrencies.
It was revealed late last week that the AFP raided the Bureau’s Melbourne CBD offices on February 28, and questioned the two employees. No charges have been laid, or arrests made. Read More
By Jim Bulling
Jim Bulling contributed an article to American Lawyer on regulatory trends in the Asia-Pacific region. The article contains a high level review of some of the policies and regulatory settings that countries in the region have adopted in response to the development of the FinTech industry. In particular the article looks at some of the regulatory settings which Governments have put in place to encourage a local FinTech industry and to protect consumers and the local financial system.
To read the article, click here.
By Adam Levine and Ben Kiernan-Green
On 19 April 2017 the K&L Gates Perth office hosted a Perth FinTech Meetup, chaired by ASIC Commissioner John Price. The event provided clients, lawyers and members of the FinTech and crowd-funding communities an opportunity to hear about ASIC’s involvement and commitment to the development of the ASIC Innovation Hub, ASIC’s regulatory sandbox and RegTech.
The European Commission recently announced that it is working on setting up an EU blockchain observatory. This will be a pilot project to build up technical expertise and regulatory capacity on topics related to blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT).
The EU blockchain observatory is being developed under the framework of the European Commission’s Task Force on FinTech, which was established following the adoption by the European Parliament of an own-initiative report on virtual currencies on 26 May 2016. Co-chaired by the European Commission’s Directorate Generals on Financial Services (DG FISMA) and on the Digital Single Market (DG CONNECT), the Task Force was set up in November 2016 to explore policy responses to FinTech. It is expected to deliver its final recommendations in the course of 2017.
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.
NetSpend Corporation has reached a settlement with the U.S. FTC about the FTC’s claims that NetSpend’s advertisements deceived consumers about the availability of funds deposited on general purpose reloadable prepaid cards (GPR Cards).
On its website, NetSpend indicates that its target customers are those without a traditional bank account or who “rely on alternative financial services.” According to the FTC’s November 2016 complaint, NetSpend’s advertising promises “guaranteed approval” and “immediate access” to funds that are “always available.” Instead, the complaint alleges, cardholders experienced delayed or denied access to funds on their GPR Cards and NetSpend depleted account balances by charging inactivity fees and often delayed resolving and providing provisional credit for account errors. The FTC also noted in its complaint that thousands of customers “complained about NetSpend’s practices to government authorities, Better Business Bureau and NetSpend itself.”
On March 9th, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) issued a proposed rule to delay for six months the October 1, 2017 effective date of its sweeping Final Rule amending Regulation E and Regulation Z as applied to prepaid accounts. Under the proposed rule, the Final Rule would become effective on April 1, 2018.
The proposed rule would not revise any other aspect of the Final Rule, and comes as numerous prepaid account industry participants have expressed concerns about its scope and their ability to comply with key provisions by the current October 1 effective date. Additionally, the proposed delay follows the recent introduction of legislation in Congress that would use the Congressional Review Act to repeal the Final Rule. According to the CFPB, the proposed delay would “be sufficient for industry participants to ensure they can comply” with the Final Rule and would provide the CFPB the opportunity to receive public comments about any implementation challenges that might impact consumers, the prepaid account industry and other stakeholders.
After publication in the Federal Register, the public will have 21 days to comment on the proposed rule.
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.