Global Fintech & Payments Blog

Pay.UK Releases Paper on Protections in Consumer-to-Business Payments

Posted in Payments

The paper identifies potential gaps in protections for consumers, with a focus on consumer-to-business payments via the Faster Payments System.

By Christian F. McDermott, Claudia Sousa, and Alain Traill

In November, Pay.UK, the retail payments authority, released a summary paper exploring the consumer protection landscape relating to disputed retail payments.

The paper, titled “Consumer Protections in Payments”, was released in the context of changes in the usage of Pay.UK’s systems following recent regulatory developments, including the EU’s revised Payment Services Directive (2015/2366, known as PSD2) and the Open Banking initiative in the UK. Focusing in particular on real-time consumer-to-business (C2B) payments using the Faster Payments System (FPS), the paper explores the protections currently in place and consumers’ understanding of those protections. Together with ongoing primary research, the paper will be used to inform further policy work by Pay.UK and, potentially, introduce new rules and standards. Continue Reading

ISDA’s Legal Guidelines Herald a Smarter Future for Derivatives Contracts

Posted in Blockchain, Digital, Open Finance

In a new publication, ISDA explores the benefits of digitization and blockchain solutions for global foreign exchange derivatives markets.

By Yvette D. Valdez, Adam Bruce Fovent, and Deric Behar

As blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT) use cases continue to grow across the broad spectrum of financial markets, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, Inc. (ISDA) is once again stepping into the crossroads of technology and derivatives with the publication of the ISDA Legal Guidelines for Smart Derivatives Contracts: Foreign Exchange Derivatives (the Guidelines). Continue Reading

Blockchain Is a Team Sport: Dispute Resolution Planning Is Key to Scaling Blockchain Solutions

Posted in Blockchain

A thorough dispute resolution model can help market participants navigate inevitable disputes in the blockchain network and minimize costly litigation.  

By Jenny Cieplak

Some of the biggest challenges in scaling blockchain solutions revolve around setting up an effective governance framework, particularly a component to manage the processes by which disputes among parties are properly settled. A new paper from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Latham & Watkins explores forward-looking practical options for different dispute resolution mechanisms distilled from case studies, various existing solutions, and blockchain-based dispute resolution protocols.

The paper outlines the following five key insights to help market participants — blockchain professionals, businesspeople, and lawyers — not only plan for disputes related to on-chain transactions, but anticipate disputes that may arise in new and unexpected ways. Continue Reading

A VCOIN for Your Thoughts: Ethereum-Based Token Wins SEC No-Action Relief

Posted in Cryptoassets

The no-action letter is the first to expressly permit token transfer off-platform to non-users and conversion to fiat currency by token holders.

By Stephen P. Wink, Shaun Musuka, and Deric Behar

As crypto prices surge, we find ourselves in the midst of another crypto wave. Given the unrelenting flow of news that accompanies such periods, it may have been easy to miss that the SEC staff recently granted no-action relief to another Ethereum-based token, VCOIN.

In only its third no-action letter to date for digital tokens, the SEC cleared the way for the software development company IMVU, Inc. to sell VCOIN, an ERC-20 token, as a transferable non-security to its global platform users. In its incoming letter, IMVU stated that it operates “one of the largest online three-dimensional avatar-based social communities in the world” with “over 7 million monthly active users from more than 140 countries” and “a user-generated virtual goods catalog of more than 40 million items.” In the same letter, IMVU sought guidance from the SEC as to whether its offering of VCOIN would require registration under Section 5 of the Securities Act and Section 12(g) of the Exchange Act. Continue Reading

CFTC Adds Another Building Block to its Digital Asset Framework

Posted in Cryptoassets

The CFTC issues stringent guidelines for FCMs seeking to custody digital assets in connection with physically delivered futures contracts or swaps.

By Yvette D. Valdez, Adam Bruce Fovent, and Deric Behar

The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC’s) Division of Swap Dealer and Intermediary Oversight (DSIO) issued CFTC Staff Letter No. 20-34 (the Advisory) on October 21, 2020, clarifying its views on the acceptance, holding, and reporting of virtual currency (e.g., bitcoin or ether) in segregated accounts by futures commission merchants (FCMs) and the development of appropriate risk management programs in relation thereto.

Specifically, the Advisory relates to virtual currencies deposited by customers with FCMs in connection with physically delivered futures contracts or swaps. Due to the “custodian risk” associated with holding virtual currency as segregated funds, the Advisory lays out specific guidance for FCMs on virtual asset acceptance and custody, and their responsibility to implement appropriate policies, procedures, and oversight programs. The Advisory does not address virtual currency held by FCMs on behalf of customers trading derivatives on markets outside of the US, or virtual currency held by FCMs on their own behalf, including in a proprietary account. Continue Reading

Hong Kong Fintech Week 2020: SFC Announces New Crypto Regulatory Regime for Virtual Asset Exchanges

Posted in Cryptoassets

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission introduces new licensing regime to regulate previously unregulated markets and restates expectations regarding security token offerings.

By Simon Hawkins, Kieran Donovan, and Kenneth Y.F. Hui

The second day of Hong Kong Fintech Week again brought together regulators and market participants from across the fintech industry for a range of insightful discussions.

Ashley Alder, Chief Executive Officer of the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), delivered the day’s biggest headline in his keynote speech, announcing that the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau (FSTB) would be issuing a consultation paper proposing a new licensing regime for virtual asset service providers (VASPs), effectively creating a legal framework that brings previously unregulated activities within the SFC’s regulatory perimeter. (Further analysis is available in Latham’s Client Alert on the proposed framework.) Continue Reading

Privacy and Payments: New Draft EU Advice for Financial Institutions

Posted in Payments

As contactless transactions boom, EU regulators publish draft guidelines on the interplay between the GDPR and PSD2.

By Fiona M. Maclean, Christian F. McDermott, Calum Docherty, and Amy Smyth

Last year, more than half of all payments in the UK were made by card and contactless methods, while cash made up less than a quarter of all payments for the first time, according to the trade association UK Finance. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a cashless society, as governments across Europe encourage citizens and businesses to adopt cashless solutions. At the start of the lockdown, in the spring, ATM transaction volumes in the UK fell 62% year on year, while the daily cash transaction volumes dropped by as much as 90% in Spain, according to the Financial Times. Continue Reading

Hong Kong Fintech Week 2020: 3 Key Policy Initiatives of the HKMA

Posted in Data Privacy, Cybersecurity, and AI, Digital, Investing in Fintech

The HKMA introduces a new data sharing initiative, reported on the central bank digital currency initiative, and outlined regtech plans.

 By Simon Hawkins, Kieran Donovan, and Kenneth Y.F. Hui

The fifth annual Hong Kong Fintech Week conference kicked off with speeches and panels from both Hong Kong and international regulatory representatives, in addition to key market players. Topics explored ranged from the impact and complications of technology and big data to notable technological trends that have emerged as a result of the pandemic. Continue Reading

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

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