The past few years have witnessed extraordinary developments in financial technology (“fintech”) in an unprecedented speed, including innovation in payments, digital currencies, blockchain and distributed ledger technology, marketplace lending and peer-to-peer lending. Fintech innovation has thereby not only risen outside the traditional financial and banking system, largely driven by non-bank entities, including venture capital-backed fintech startups as well as non-traditional financial services providers (e.g. e-commerce platforms or data giants) it also has changed conventional value chains, business models, and market structures.
Fintech innovation is actively changing costumers’ experience and expectations by promoting a more customer-centric approach to financial and banking services. In addition, recent developments in fintech offer new opportunities for client value creation by enabling smarter understanding of clients’ needs and the design of new personalized products and services. Analytical tools collect and use structured and unstructured data to support process and product/service optimization, risk management and strategic decision-making. Data and access to data is thus playing an increasingly pivotal role. Moreover by leveraging the widespread reach of data networks and smart and mobile phones, fintech innovation is gradually providing financial inclusion to a broader segment of the global population.
Despite the potential that lies in fintech innovation it is widely argued that the worth and risks of financial innovation are yet not comprehensively foreseeable which allegedly has created legal uncertainties and information asymmetries. Notwithstanding the opportunities, developments in fintech may also create and augment a number of risks and complexities in terms of privacy, personal information and data treatment, customer protection, transparency, cyber-security and ultimately competition. For these reasons, fintech regulation is increasingly tightening. Financial regulators are now trying to encourage developments in fintech by providing a regulatory environment where innovation can thrive, while simultaneously protecting markets, consumers, and investors. Regulatory oversight and regulation may be, thus, critical factors for the growth of the fintech ecosystem and could significantly affect the extent and speed of its future developments.
This project seeks to immerse in the area of regulating fintech innovation and to duly address the tension between competition, innovation, financial stability and consumer protection. It starts by analyzing and comparing the evolution of the different legislative and regulatory frameworks of the EU and the United States related to fintech innovations in the payments markets. On this basis it will examine whether payments related fintech innovations really fall short of regulation and regulatory intervention is needed or smart regulation may be a potential way forward.