In the first post of this series we started to discuss the Action Plan the European Commission published the last 8th of March with the objective of taking advantage of the opportunities technology provides to financial services.
In the previous post we discussed with the first for points included in this action plan, and now we will focus on the remaining five.
5. Eliminating obstacles for cloud services
It is proven that cloud computing can increase the efficiency of the digital infrastructure which underpins financial services reducing the general cost of the operations.
On this basis, the Commission considers the undertaking of the following main actions:
– Need for the European Supervisory Authorities to explore, in the first quarter of 2019, the possibility of developing guidelines on outsourcing to cloud services providers.
– Need for developing cross-sectoral codes of conduct (self-regulation) to facilitate the switching of solutions between different cloud service providers and, also, to facilitate data porting between financial institutions.
– Need for developing standard contractual clauses for cloud services outsourcing, addressed to financial institutions, guaranteeing the involvement of the financial sector in this process. The Commission points out that this activity must be undertaken, in a coordinated and balanced way, by companies of the financial sector and cloud service providers, and must take into account, among others, audit requirements, reporting requirements, or the possible outsourcing of certain activities to third parties.
6. Promotion of FinTech applications based on the EU blockchain initiative
Its likely that blockchain technology (distributed ledger technology) will transform the way in which information or assets are validated, shared or accessed to through digital networks. Its also probable that this technology will continue to develop in the following years and becomes a key part of the digital economy and society.
Due to this, the Commission considers the following actions:
– In the second quarter of 2018, the Commission will launch a public consultation on the further digitization of regulated information about companies listed on EU, including the possible implementation of a European Financial Transparency Gateway based on blockchain technology.
– Furthermore, the Commission will continue to work on a comprehensive strategy on blockchain, considering all relevant legal implications, addressing all sectors of the economy, including enabling FinTech and RegTech applications in the EU.
– Consolidation of the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum (created last February) as well as a study on the feasibility of an EU public blockchain infrastructure to develop cross-border services, even considering the possibility of linking this initiative with the mechanism <>. As well as the analysis of legal issues and the governing, scalability, support and interoperability of the model, it also considers evaluating cases of blockchain use and its applications in the context of the Next Generation Internet.
7. Developing capability and knowledge among regulators and supervisors in a UE FinTech lab
The main obstacles that prevent the financial industry of taking up new technologies in a decisive manner are uncertainty and the lack of guidance on how to use them, fragmentation and the lack of common approaches between the national regulators and supervisores.
In this way, the action planned by the Commission includes formalizing, in the second quarter of 2018, a UE FinTech lab to which the European and national authorities will be invited to engage with technological solution providers, in a neutral and non-commercial space, developing sessions on specific innovations.
8. Promotion of technology to support distribution of retail investment products across the Single Market
Currently, retail investors that interact with the capital markets are overwhelmed by the complexity, the cost and the uncertainty associated with investment products. The Commission wants to improve this reality with specific actions.
9. Promotion of Cybersecurity and Integrity in the financial sector
Cybersecurity, also for the financial sector, remains one of the centres of EU policy action. The most sophisticated cyberattacks make it necessary to permanently guarantee the resilience and integrity of the systems. The cross-border nature of cyber threats requieres a high degree of coordination between national regulatory and supervisory requirements and expectations. As the financial sector becomes increasingly dependent on IT, it is essential to ensure that this sector is resilient to cyberattacks. In this respect, the Commission recognizes the importance of the digital services incorporating a security by design approach; and, regarding this, has already presented a proposal (Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on ENISA, the “EU Cybersecurity Agency”, and repealing Regulation (EU) 526/2013, and on Information and Communication Technology cybersecurity certification (”Cybersecurity Act”)) to create a certification framework of the EU for ICT security products and services.
The actions the Commission considers are:
– To organize, in the second quarter of 2018, a public-private workshop to explore and assess barriers that can limit information sharing on cyber threats between financial market participants and to identify potential solutions while ensuring data protection standards are met.
– To examine, in the first quarter of 2019, the existing supervisory practices across financial sectors around ICT security and governance requirements and, where appropriate, to consider issuing guidelines aimed at supervisory convergence and enforcement of ICT risk management and mitigation requirements in the EU financial sector and, if necessary, provide the Commission with technical advice on the need for legislative improvements.
– To invite the European Supervisory Authorities to evaluate, in the fourth quarter of 2018, the costs and benefits of developing a coherent cyber resilience testing framework for significant market participants and infrastructures within the whole EU financial sector.
As we have seen and as noted in the examined document, this FinTech Action Plan of the European Commission combines both support measures to help introduce FinTech solutions in the European market and proactive measures to promote and stimulate new solutions and address in a decisive manner the risks and emerging challenges. The final goal is threefold:
– To harness rapid advances in technology for the benefit of the EU economy, citizens and industry.
– To foster a more competitive and innovative European financial sector.
– To ensure the integrity of the EU financial system.