SEC Convenes Fintech Forum
On Nov. 14, 2016, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hosted an all-day forum on FinTech (Forum). The event highlighted the active role the SEC intends to take in monitoring and regulating technological innovation based upon the potential impact of innovation on investors and capital markets.
In her remarks to Forum attendees, SEC Chair Mary Jo White described steps taken by the SEC with respect to its role in regulating FinTech. These steps include the establishment earlier this year of a FinTech Working Group, to be staffed by SEC employees across all divisions, and the work of a Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group.
The FinTech Working Group has been tasked with providing specific recommendations, which may encompass “staff guidance, concept releases or proposed rulemaking, or . . . [a] call for, in part, improved communications about existing regulations and interpretations that are not widely understood among innovators.” The FinTech Working Group intends to solicit input from investors, innovators, and other stakeholders involved in the development, implementation, and use of innovative technologies.
The SEC’s Distributed Ledger Technology Working Group (originally founded as the Digital Currency Working Group in 2013) has been tasked with evaluating when and how distributed ledger technology will be on-boarded within the securities market, and with tracking how and whether blockchain technology integrates into current market structures or obviates certain existing services and market participants.
The Forum included separate panel discussions featuring speakers from the SEC, private sector, and academia. The panelists addressed developments, opportunities and challenges relating to technological innovation with respect to three primary areas of innovation: (1) automated investing, (2) distributed ledger technology, and (3) crowdfunding and online marketplace lending. White provided an overview of opportunities and challenges arising from technological innovation in these three areas. Highlights of her remarks are set forth below:
The SEC has begun to devote significant resources and attention to monitoring and addressing issues that arise in connection with technological innovation. The Forum presented detailed considerations relating to the history, benefits, and challenges of technological innovation as it impacts financial services.