[Newsflash n. 44]
On 8 March 2018, the EU Commission published a Communication on FinTech setting out 23 steps for a more competitive and innovative European financial sector (“FinTech Action Plan”).
In light of the rapid growth of FinTech and its crucial position at the crossroads of the financial services and the Digital Single Market, the Commission issued this Action Plan with the goal of building “an enabling framework to let innovation flourish, while managing risks and protecting consumers”.
The Action Plan aims to enable innovative business models to scale up, support the uptake of new technologies, increase cybersecurity and the integrity of the financial system, through several proposed initiatives, such as:
- Assessing by Q2 2019 possible unjustified regulatory obstacles on jurisdictional issues for blockchain-based applications, existing uncertainties on legal validity and enforceability of smart contracts, as well as complexities on the legal status and rules applicable to crypto-assets and in particular the fast-growing use of Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs);
- Establishing the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum (BOF) which is set to become the reference point for the EU blockchain initiative, especially on cross-border services and standardisation;
- Increasing competition and cooperation between market players through common standards and interoperable solutions (e.g. supporting and developing standardised application programming interfaces that are compliant with the Payment Services Directive and the General Data Protection Regulation);
- Enhancing the security and integrity of the financial sector (organising workshops in the areas of cybersecurity, conducting penetration and resilience tests);
- Enabling innovative business models to scale-up across the EU through clear and consistent licensing requirements by allowing FinTech firms to benefit from the rights of passporting. In this respect, together with this Communication, the Commission published a Proposal for a Regulation on crowdfunding, which aims to ensure a regulatory framework that allows crowdfunding platforms that want to operate cross-border to do so with a comprehensive passporting regime under unified supervision.
The Action Plan covers also the area of RegTech, in relation to which the Commission plans to:
- Establish an EU FinTech Lab to raise the level of regulatory and supervisory capacity and knowledge about new technologies;
- Set up regulatory sandboxes to conduct live experiments in a controlled environment under a regulator’s supervision; and
- Invite the ESAs (like EBA, EIOPA, ESMA) to conduct further analysis and identify best practices by Q4 2018 and, where appropriate, to issue guidelines on FinTech facilitators (innovation hubs and regulatory sandboxes).
The Action Plan is part of the Commission’s efforts to build a Capital Markets Union (CMU) and a true single market for consumer financial services. It is also part of its drive to create a Digital Single Market.