Global Fintech & Payments Blog

Prelude to a Digital Euro: European Central Bank Joins the CBDC Race

Posted in Payments

A new report explores the advantages, impacts, and approaches the Eurosystem is considering as it contemplates a digital currency.

By Max von Cube

In October 2020, the European Central Bank (ECB) published a Report on a Digital Euro (the Report). The Report sets out the main findings of a task force initiated in early 2020 to investigate the potential for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the euro area. Continue Reading

DOJ’s Evolving Framework for Cryptocurrency Enforcement

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptoassets

US Department of Justice’s sprawling report reveals regulatory enforcement priorities for cryptocurrencies and highlights multi-agency cooperation.

By Susan Engel, Miles Jennings, Benjamin Naftalis, Yvette Valdez, Eric Volkman, Stephen Wink, Douglas K. Yatter, and Deric Behar

On October 8, 2020, the US Attorney General’s Cyber-Digital Task Force of the Department of Justice (DOJ) published an extensive white paper, titled Cryptocurrency: An Enforcement Framework (the Report). The Report gives a detailed overview of legitimate uses of cryptocurrencies, the risks of illicit cryptocurrency activity, and related federal enforcement challenges and response strategies. Continue Reading

A Map for the New World of Blockchain

Posted in Blockchain

A collaborative project led by the Global Blockchain Business Council represents an unprecedented effort to analyze the technical and regulatory blockchain landscape.

By Stuart Davis, Axel Schiemann, Farhana Sharmeen, Simon Hawkins, Max von Cube, Kenneth Y.F. Hui, and Gen Huong Tan

On October 14, 2020, the Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC) and the World Economic Forum released the 2020 Global Standards Mapping Initiative (GSMI), the first comprehensive effort to assess and map global blockchain standards. The GSMI synthesizes key blockchain data and trends, and provides action-oriented guidance for public- and private-sector stakeholders. Latham & Watkins provided legal and regulatory review for the project.

The GSMI comprises two component reports (Technical Overview and Legal & Regulatory Overview) and an interactive world map of blockchain and digital asset legislation, regulation, and guidance. The survey encompasses data aggregated from 185 jurisdictions, 379 industry groups, and more than 30 technical standard-setting entities. The blockchain and digital asset landscape is mapped across three distinct areas: (i) technical standards; (ii) legislation and guidance by sovereign and international bodies; and (iii) industry best practices and standards. Continue Reading

MiCA: EU Commission Publishes Comprehensive Cryptoasset Market Regulation Proposal

Posted in Cryptoassets

The proposed regulation will provide greater consumer and investor protection and lessen the risks of participating in digital finance.

By Stuart Davis

The EU Commission has published a proposal for a wide-ranging EU regulation covering cryptoassets and e-money tokens, both of which are currently largely unaddressed in EU financial services legislation.

The draft Markets in Cryptoassets Regulation (MiCA) has been designed to:

  • Increase legal certainty in the area of cryptoassets
  • Support innovation and promote the development of cryptoassets and the wider use of distributed ledger technology (DLT)
  • Instil appropriate levels of consumer and investor protection and market integrity in an area that presents many of the same risks as traditional financial instruments
  • Ensure financial stability

Continue Reading

Settlement of Digital Asset Trading Just Got Easier

Posted in Cryptoassets

SEC relief streamlines noncustodial settlement of digital asset trades, but broker-dealer custody is still off-limits.

By Stephen P. Wink, Naim Culhaci, and Deric Behar

On September 25, 2020, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a no-action letter (the Letter) granting more leeway to registered alternative trading systems (ATSs) that settle trades involving digital asset securities. The no-action relief is intended to reduce operational and settlement risks that ATSs face as they seek ways to provide noncustodial digital asset services, including settlement of trades involving virtual currencies, coins, and tokens. Continue Reading

Banks Can Hold Stablecoin Reserves, OCC States in Crypto-Friendly Letter

Posted in Cryptoassets

The US OCC allows banks, with certain restrictions, to hold assets in reserve for stablecoin issuers.

By Alan W. Avery, Todd Beauchamp, Stephen P. Wink, Pia Naib, Loyal T. Horsley, Charles Weinstein, and Deric Behar

On September 21, 2020, the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued Interpretive Letter #1172 (the Letter), giving national banks and federal savings associations (FSAs) the greenlight to hold deposits that serve as reserves for the underlying assets backing certain “stablecoins” on behalf of customers. According to the Letter, national banks and FSAs are granted this expanded authority to hold stablecoin reserves if all of the following conditions are met:

  • Deposits that constitute reserves for stablecoins are limited to stablecoin transactions involving hosted wallets.
  • The stablecoins are backed by a single fiat currency.
  • The stablecoins are redeemable by the holder on a one-to-one basis upon submission of a redemption request to the issuer.

Continue Reading

Cyber and Payments Are Priority Areas for Policy Changes

Posted in Payments

Elisabeth Stheeman of the Financial Policy Committee outlined the new frameworks for building operational resilience against cyber risks and protection of payment chains.

By Brett Carr and Stuart Davis

On 9 September 2020, Elisabeth Stheeman, an External Member of the Financial Policy Committee (FPC) for the Bank of England (BoE) delivered a speech entitled, “The Financial ‘Plumbing’ Committee: from Plumbing to Policy” outlining the changes that financial services firms can expect in two priority areas — cyber and payments — in order to build operational resilience of the financial system. Continue Reading

BoE Governor Speaks: Payments Firms Should Expect Regulatory Change

Posted in Payments

Andrew Bailey outlined what payments market participants can expect from regulators seeking to address financial stability risk in the world of payments, including as part of the rise and adoption of global stablecoins.

By Brett Carr and Stuart Davis

On 3 September 2020, the Governor of the Bank of England (BoE) Andrew Bailey delivered a speech “Reinventing the Wheel (with more automation)”, in which he outlined regulatory changes that payments market participants can expect, including as part of the global regulatory response to stablecoins. Continue Reading

SAMA Updates Payment Services Provider Licensing Regime in the KSA

Posted in Payments

The updates are part of SAMA’s efforts to promote an innovation-based financial technology ecosystem in the KSA.

By Salman Al-Sudairi, Brian A. Meenagh, and Homam Khoshaim

Last month, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) issued an update to the recently implemented Payment Services Provider Regulations (PSPR), which was introduced in January 2020 to regulate Payment Services Providers (PSPs) operating in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The PSPR provides a clear path for PSPs to obtain SAMA-issued licenses to provide payment services in the KSA. Notably, the PSPR applies concepts implemented by the European Union’s Payment Services Directive (PSD2). This should remove some of the friction involved in international PSPs launching operations in the KSA by allowing them to apply the same business models and operating processes already applied in the jurisdictions in which they operate. Continue Reading

LexBlog