Article 50 could imperil fintech, says Innovate Finance

Theresa May’s firing of the Brexit starting gun could lead to a squeeze on finance and talent for the fast-growing fintech sector, says specialist trade group

The flow of funds and high-quality skills into the UK’s fintech sector could be threatened by Prime Minister Theresa May’s triggering of Article 50, according to Innovate Finance.

Writing on the trade association’s Medium page, its CEO Lawrence Wintermeyer warned: “The UK fintech sector relies on global investment and world-class talent. The triggering of Article 50 may pose challenges to these fundamentals.

“The government must ensure that the UK remains attractive to global talent and investors. It must also play an active role in ensuring that homegrown talent is equipped with the skills to participate in the digital economy and play its role in the future development of fintech.”

However, Wintermeyer noted, May’s decision could lead to some interesting evolutionary steps for financial regulations.

“While the triggering of Article 50 may pose challenges for fintech,” he wrote, “it may also create many new opportunities – especially in the area of the development of financial services regulation, and new technologies that make financial services better for everyone.”

At least one specialist publication has interpreted those comments as a prediction that more sophisticated regtech will emerge to address any volatility that stems from the Brexit negotiations.

Wintermeyer added: “The UK government must ensure we continue to develop the most progressive fintech ecosystem in the world and attract and develop the best global talent: the key ingredients to attracting quality investors.”

On that very theme, just days before Wintermeyer announced his organisation’s stance, the European Commission launched a major new consultation on the regulatory management of fintech.

In the Commission’s view, the consultation paper explains, EU policies on fintech should embody the following characteristics:

  • Technology-neutral to ensure that the same activity is subject to the same regulation irrespective of the way the service is delivered, so that innovation is enabled and a level playing field preserved.
  • Proportional, reflecting the business model, size and systemic significance, as well as the complexity and cross-border activity of the regulated entities.
  • Integrity-enhancing, as application of technologies to financial services should promote more market transparency to the benefit of consumers and businesses without creating unwarranted risks (eg, market abuse, mis-selling, cybersecurity issues, systemic risks).

As such, the paper says, the Commission aims “to further develop [its] policy approach towards technological innovation in financial services … The goal is to create an enabling environment, where innovative fintech products and solutions take off at a brisk pace all over the EU, while ensuring financial stability”.

Find the full consultation here.

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