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September 06, 2018

During the Austrian Financial Market Authority event in Vienna, the EC Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis offered introductory remarks on digital challenges for the financial sector. He explained that the EC ambition is to support an innovative European financial sector, while looking after consumers and addressing risks. He said that "... fintech is still in its early days, with plenty of unrealized potential for ground-breaking innovation."

The EC Vice President highlighted that EC is working to support innovative companies and the financial industry to make the most of the new technologies. EC aims for the innovative companies to set up in Europe, grow in Europe, and compete internationally from Europe. Consequently, in March, EC launched the Fintech Action Plan, which sets out concrete steps for a more innovative and competitive financial industry in EU. He then discussed the actions that EC has taken so far, based on the goals of the Fintech Action Plan:

  • Ensure that innovative companies can benefit from the full scale of the EU single market. In Spring, EC proposed to allow EU crowdfunding platforms to operate across EU, based on a single authorization. This proposal is under discussion in the European Parliament and the EU Council.
  • Support the uptake of transformative technologies such as blockchain or artificial intelligence. EC has set up an expert group to look at obstacles to fintech innovation in financial services legislation. The group held its meeting in June and will publish a report by the middle of next year. In June, EC also had the first meeting of its EU Fintech lab and is continuously monitoring the developments of crypto-assets and initial coin offerings, along with the supervisors, ECB, FSB, and international standard-setters. One challenge with crypto-assets is how to categorize and classify them and whether/how to apply the existing EU financial rules to these assets. EC is working with supervisors on a regulatory mapping of crypto assets and will conclude its assessment later this year. It will examine whether the existing financial sector rules are suitable for crypto-assets, or if new EU-level initiatives are needed. 
  • Ensure cyber resilience of the financial sector. This summer, EC organized a public-private workshop to identify barriers that hinder information-sharing among market participants. Additionally, countering cyber threat requires rigorous testing to identify weaknesses, like imitating hacking attacks that try to break into systems. EC wants to avoid a proliferation of many different testing requirements across member states and that is why EC supports existing efforts to develop an EU-wide testing framework. Finally, he said that strong cyber resilience is also about effective training and awareness-raising. Therefore, EC has recently adopted a Digital Education Action Plan to improve digital skills throughout Europe, including on cybersecurity.

Related Link: Speech

Keywords: Europe, EU, Banking, Securities, Insurance, Fintech, Regtech, Cyber Risk, Action Plan, EC

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