Creating the Europe-wide framework for alternative finance is the ambitious objective of the European Commission (EC) with a new legislative proposal, part of the Capital Market Union action plan approved in 2015, that is now at the assessment stage and open for comments and feedback from the interested parties, until November 27, 2017.
With the Payment Services Directive becoming a reality at the start of 2018, can we expect to see a panacea of connected services at users’ fingertips, offering best in class quotes for financial products based on actual information? Will we see firms position themselves as leaders beyond their previous borders and existence, in the digital realm with limitless data-driven possibilities? Or will we maybe see cross the board resistance and siloed architecture that prevents valuable use?
Since its implementation in November 2007, the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) has been the cornerstone of capital markets regulation in Europe. However, since its inception, not all benefits have been fed down to the end investor as envisaged. MiFID II is aimed to address the shortcomings of the original MiFID release and has been amended with measures as a result of the lessons learned from the financial crisis.
The European Union (EU) Executive's Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Thursday, 23rd March 2017, that the Commission is considering how to regulate the expanding sector to encourage its development in Europe, while protecting consumers from risks that may emerge.
Managing regulations and compliance is becoming increasingly difficult for banks because it is time consuming and expensive, experts claim. For example, when asked by a journalist about the difficulties for top banks in managing compliance costs, a top investor commented: “(…) that is a massive challenge for these banks.”
The Australian Parliament, through the voice of Treasurer Scott Morrison, recently introduced a bill aimed at removing the regulatory barriers to Crowd-Sourced Funding (CSF). CSF is a fundraising model that allows individual investors to directly invest in small companies, which might otherwise struggle to access affordable sources of funding. The concept of CSF is better known as ‘equity crowdfunding’ in other countries, and is for instance described as such in the American legislation.
The alternative finance sector in France is experiencing great momentum. It’s the second largest market in Europe after the UK, with a volume that has more than doubled between 2013 and 2014 (+103%) and then again between 2014 and 2015 (+107%), reaching €319 million in the past year. France is also home to nearly half of the largest banks in Europe. The updated regulations, published in the Journal Officiel the 30th of October 2016, could be what is needed to allow the market to take off and reach the next level.
On October 18, 2016 the Malaysian Central Bank published its financial technology regulatory sandbox framework to enable the live experimentation of fintech solutions in the country. This initiative echoes the statement issued by the Indonesian Central Bank in late September: “Next month we will launch a fintech office [and] establish a special task force that will coordinate with other fintech offices". In this post, we will get an update on what's happened since they've been deployed.
The Emirates may have been less responsive than others to take action on the disruption happening with financial technology, but in the last year, along with the growing enthusiasm showed by the local environment of finance pioneers and investors, we have seen a good number of new initiatives that should catalyze the local digital finance market to scale.
A ‘Fintech Sandbox’ is a technology environment where companies/firms would work in close partnership with regulators to develop their ideas and technology without the red tape that may inhibit their potential growth. In the UK, France, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia, regulators have already or are currently laying the groundwork for a such a Sandbox environment that gives the firms the ability to test a new product or business model with a limited launch, without going through the full regulatory process.