Global FinTech & Payments Blog

Investors Welcome ADGM’s Guidance on Dedicated Cryptoasset Framework

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptoassets

The Abu Dhabi Global Market’s Guidance clarifies and expands FSRA expectations for OCAB Framework license holders.

By Brian A. Meenagh

In June 2018, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) unveiled a dedicated cryptoasset regulatory framework by way of various amendments to the FSRA’s core regulations — the Financial Services and Markets Regulation (FSMR), as well as supplementary guidance thereto.

In May 2019, the FSRA issued updated and greatly expanded guidance (FSRA Guidance) that includes a more granular level of detail and addresses a range of topics not covered in the initial guidance. This blog will consider some of these topics in more detail.

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Can Broker-Dealers HODL? SEC and FINRA Say Keep It Noncustodial for Now

Posted in Cryptoassets

The regulators attempt to clarify their position on the possible custody of digital assets by broker-dealers, but questions remain.

By Stephen P. Wink, Cameron R. Kates, Shaun Musuka, and Deric Behar

The SEC and FINRA recently released a joint staff statement (Joint Statement) addressing the custody of digital asset securities by broker-dealers. For some time, registered broker-dealers and applicants have sought to facilitate digital asset transactions and the accompanying custody of such assets. However, their efforts have been stymied, in part due to a lack of interpretive guidance from the SEC and FINRA regarding how to custody digital assets in compliance with the relevant regulations. The Joint Statement is an initial step by the SEC and FINRA toward clarifying their positions on these issues. It makes clear that broker-dealers that do not seek to custody such assets but seek to otherwise engage in brokerage activities with digital assets (e.g., private placements or if the broker-dealer matches buyers and sellers who conduct settlement between themselves) should be permitted to do so. The bottom line, however, is that the regulators “are just not ready”[i] to approve broker-dealers to custody digital assets. Continue Reading

SCA: Storm Clouds Approaching?

Posted in Digital, Payments

Stripe-commissioned report projects that Europe’s online economy risks losing €57 billion when SCA goes into effect on 14 September.

By Christian F. McDermott

A recent report released by 451 Research and commissioned by Stripe, the online payment processing business, has found poor levels of readiness for the requirements of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA). The report projects that European businesses stand to lose €57 billion in economic activity in the first 12 months after SCA takes effect on 14 September 2019.

Background

The revised Payment Services Directive (EU) 2015/2366 (PSD2) introduced SCA as a means to help achieve the overall aim of “ensuring that all payment services offered electronically are carried out in a secure manner, [by] adopting technologies able to guarantee the safe authentication of the user and … reduc[ing], to the maximum extent possible, the risk of fraud.”[1]

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UK and Singapore Regulators Announce Enhanced Cybersecurity Collaboration

Posted in Data Privacy, Cybersecurity, and AI

By Andrew C. Moyle, Grace Erskine, and Charlotte Collins

As leading global financial and FinTech centres, the UK and Singapore will benefit from strengthening their cybersecurity alliance.

On 13 June 2019, the Bank of England, the Financial Conduct Authority, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore announced that they will be working together to strengthen cybersecurity in their countries’ financial sectors.

The regulators have characterised the aims of this new collaboration as “identifying effective ways to share information and exploring potential for staff exchanges”.

All three regulators have identified cybercrime as an increasing global problem. Speaking about the new initiative, Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, said, “The average cost of cybercrime for financial services companies globally has increased by more than 40% over the past three years. Cyber risk is not constrained by geographic boundaries, making international cooperation essential to address this growing threat”. Continue Reading

Regulators Get Tough on Regulatory Outsourcing Failings

Posted in Payments

Latest FCA and PRA fines against a retail bank show little tolerance for poor outsourcing systems and controls.

By Fiona M. Maclean, Christian F. McDermott, Laura Holden, and Charlotte Collins

On 29 May 2019, the FCA and PRA announced that they had fined an independent UK bank for failing to manage its outsourcing arrangements properly between April 2014 and December 2016. The bank received separate fines of £775,100 from the FCA and £1,112,152 from the PRA (resulting in a combined fine of £1,887,252) for breaches of the regulators’ high-level principles for authorised firms, as well as their more detailed rules on outsourcing. Each fine includes a 30% early settlement discount.

The bank was fined by both regulators as the failings resulted in breaches of both regulators’ rules, and went to both regulators’ statutory objectives (specifically, the FCA’s consumer protection objective and the PRA’s objective to promote firms’ safety and soundness). Although both regulators applied the same five-step penalty framework to calculate their penalties, the way in which they applied the framework led to different figures. In particular, because the PRA had previously fined the same bank for outsourcing failures in November 2015, the repeat failure was a significant aggravating factor that led to an uplift in the PRA’s penalty. Continue Reading

Stakeholders Welcome New FinCEN Regulatory Guidance for Convertible Virtual Currency

Posted in Blockchain, Cryptoassets, Payments

FinCEN’s guidance clarifies the applicability of the BSA to a variety of virtual currency businesses.

By Todd Beauchamp, Charles Weinstein, Loyal T. Horsley, Cameron R. Kates, and Shaun Musuka

On May 9, the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued interpretive guidance expanding on previously issued guidance and rulings regarding the application of the Bank Secrecy Act and FinCEN’s implementing regulations (collectively, the BSA) to a variety of business models involving “convertible virtual currency” (CVC).[i]

Background

The BSA is the US’ principal anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML) regulatory regime, and is applicable to “financial institutions,” which includes a variety of entities, such as banks and “money services businesses” (MSBs). One type of MSB is a “Money Transmitter,” which includes any person that accepts “currency, funds or other value that substitutes for currency from one person” and transmits such “currency, funds or other value to another location or person by any means.” Continue Reading

European Central Bank Crypto-Assets Task Force Releases Paper on Cryptocurrencies

Posted in Cryptoassets, Digital

The paper discusses supervision and regulatory issues of cryptocurrencies, and finds that a central bank digital currency in the EU is not (yet) warranted.

By Max von Cube

In May, the European Central Bank’s Crypto-Assets Task Force published a paper on cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, and Ripple (referred to as narrowly defined “crypto-assets”). The paper, titled “Crypto-Assets: Implications for financial stability, monetary policy, and payments and market infrastructures,” follows similar recent publications by the European Banking Authority (EBA)[i] and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).[ii]

After examining cryptocurrency markets and tracing their linkage to the financial system and the real economy, the authors of the paper found that cryptocurrencies currently do not pose a material risk to financial stability. Further, the authors currently see no direct implications of cryptocurrencies for monetary policy. Continue Reading

Overcoming Regulatory Hurdles: Introducing an Automated Convertible Note Generator for Token-Based Startups

Posted in Blockchain

The online document generator helps startups raise capital with customizable market standard terms and optional digital token provisions.

By David L. Concannon, Yvette D. Valdez, Stephen P. Wink, Miles P. Jennings, and Shaun Musuka

In collaboration with ConsenSys and OpenLaw, Latham & Watkins recently launched the Automated Convertible Note Generator, a complimentary tool designed to assist startups with capital raises. The Automated Convertible Note is a potential solution for capital formation that also addresses future token sales in a manner compliant with US securities and commodities regulations.

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UK FinTech State of the Nation Report Highlights UK’s Leading Position

Posted in Investing in FinTech

Report highlights key strengths and regulatory innovations to inform stakeholders for trade and investment.

By Laura Holden and Nootan Vegad

The Department for International Trade, with the support of Innovate Finance, has published a report titled the “FinTech State of the Nation”. Providing an overview of the UK’s FinTech industry and highlighting the UK’s appeal as a FinTech destination for entrepreneurs and investors, the report seeks to demonstrate how the UK’s FinTech sector has emerged as a global leader and why this will continue in the future.

The report describes the actions that the government, regulators, and industry have taken to stimulate and sustain growth of the UK’s FinTech sector. The report includes an overview of technology demand, a regional analysis of FinTech, details of the investment environment, views from the FCA, a summary of the talent, skills, and diversity in the industry and the “Essential Eight” technology trends — which includes block chain, drones, and artificial intelligence to name a few. Continue Reading

FCA Outlines Key Deadlines for PSD2 Compliance

Posted in Data Privacy, Cybersecurity, and AI, Payments

As several PSD2 deadlines approach, PSPs must comply with reporting and notification requirements, as well as with their GDPR obligations.

By Christian F. McDermott, Fiona M. Maclean, and Jagveen Tyndall

Though the majority of the provisions relating to the revised EU Payment Services Directive (PSD2) came into force in the UK on 13 January 2018, the regulatory technical standards (RTS) and strong customer authentication measures (SCA) will come into force on 14 September 2019. The FCA has issued a helpful reminder setting out some important deadlines that payment service providers (PSPs) must meet to be compliant.

Application Programme Interfaces

PSD2 allows third party providers (TPPs) to build payment service infrastructures upon the existing platforms of financial institutions; such institutions must provide TPPs with access to client account information via open application programme interfaces (APIs). Financial institutions seeking to enable such access can do so by either constructing dedicated interfaces built on these APIs or through adjusting existing customer interfaces. In both instances, such interfaces and their accompanying customer authentication measures must be in place by 14 September 2019. Continue Reading

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