FinTech Regulation Gears Up

Among the top banking regulators aiming a regulatory salvo at the FinTech sector: the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal on Monday (March 28), the agency is likely to put forth a “formal call” this week for financial officials to begin the process of putting together a regulatory framework centered on the FinTech industry, which would tie in with the contention from banks and also tech upstarts that dominates the field to loosen up current regulations.

In an interview, and in advance of a Thursday whitepaper that would delve into “responsible innovation,” Amy Friend, chief counsel of the agency, said: “What we’re talking about now is receptivity to exploring these issues and understanding these different models as opposed to saying ‘no’ right off the bat.” This is, said WSJ, the first major move by a banking regulatory agency to set at least some parameters over online financial innovation. That being said, concrete proposals are unlikely to dot the whitepaper’s landscape. The formal comments are going to come later. Rather, the whitepaper is meant to spur a discussion within the industry.

Jerry Brito, executive director of Coin Center, a nonprofit advocate for digital currencies and blockchain technologies, told WSJ: “The FinTech industry … is not stopping, but many companies are scratching their heads in trying to determine whether their product is in compliance since there’s not a clear, uniform direction from the federal regulators.”

The push toward some sort of framework follows criticism from various corners that the country has been relatively slow to embrace policies that would promote FinTech growth. One beacon that has been held up is the United Kingdom, which has a program through which regulators work with companies in a joint effort to refashion the marketplace.