Fintech regulation likely to increase, warns Governor
Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England and Chair of the Financial Stability Board, has warned of a likely increase in regulation for… Read more
Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England and Chair of the Financial Stability Board, has warned of a likely increase in regulation for Fintech firms due to the “systemic risks” they pose to the banking sector and the wider economy. Speaking at the Deutsche Bundesbank G20 conference, Mr. Carney noted that “the history of financial innovation is littered with examples that led to early booms, growing unintended consequences, and eventual busts.”
Fintech has been instrumental in revolutionising the financial markets in recent years. There has been widespread investment by many banks in blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins the digital currency Bitcoin. Many banks are looking at the application of blockchain to transactional systems as well as anti-money laundering, by enabling encrypted KYC data to be shared among banks in near real-time, while maintaining a historical record of all documents shared and changes made.
Carney warned that the rise of blockchain technology was being watched closely by the FSB and that “fintech innovations, such as distributed ledgers, will need to meet the highest standards of resilience, reliability, privacy and scalability.”
Carney accepted that peer-to peer lending (also known as P2P, crowdlending or loan-based crowdfunding), which represents about 14% of new lending to small businesses in the UK, “does not, for now, appear to pose material systemic risks”. This might reflect the fact that P2P is already regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is in line with the UK government’s introduction last April of the new Innovative Finance ISA, which enables retail investors to hold P2P investments in a tax-free wrapper. However, P2P lending, which is regulated by the FCA, is likely to remain on the regulatory radar for some time to come; shortly before the launch of the Innovative Finance ISA, Lord Turner, the former head of the FCA, accused P2P platforms of not doing proper checks on their borrowers.
Carney also suggested that new risks could arise in relation to robo-advice if robo-advisers or high-frequency traders have a high correlation with each other, leading to “flash crash” situations. The FCA recently established an automated advice unit, to help ensure that robo-advice achieves the same the same outcomes for consumers as face-to-face advice, while stimulating a more engaging and cost-effective market.
The likelihood of increased regulation underlies the need for Fintech firms to ensure they understand their regulatory obligations and engage as soon as possible with the regulator in order to influence upcoming changes and ensure they reflect the underlying technology.
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