The post below was first published on our Fintech notes blog

In this regular update, we round-up FinTech-related financial services regulatory developments for the week ending 23 September 2022.

ICYMI

Everything you wanted to know about the Metaverse
In the first of our TechQuake series exploring high-impact technologies, we ask how seriously the business world should take the metaverse

 

UK

FCA: CP on guidance on the trading venue perimeter

The FCA has published Consultation Paper 22/18 Guidance on the trading venue perimeter (CP22/18). CP22/18 forms part of the Wholesale Markets Review, which the FCA is conducting with HM Treasury (HMT). CP22/18 seeks to clarify the FCA’s definition of a multilateral system and how this applies to different types of arrangements in financial markets. The proposed guidance covers a number of areas, including: investment-based crowdfunding firms operating primary market platforms; bulletin boards; technology providers; portfolio managers operating internal matching systems; blocking onto trading venues; and more. Further, while not making specific proposals at this time, the FCA is also seeking views on whether the trading venue regime can be made more proportionate for smaller firms.

Feedback is requested by 11 November 2022; the FCA expects to publish a policy statement in Q2 2023. [22 Sep 2022]

#Crowdfunding

#TechProviders

 

EU

EIOPA publishes SS on exclusions related to systemic events and the management of non-affirmative cyber exposures 

The European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) has published two supervisory statements:

The first SS aims to promote supervisory convergence in how national competent authorities assess the treatment of exclusions as part of the product design and terms and conditions drafting process, and the second aims to promote supervisory convergence in how national competent authorities address the market regarding cyber risks [22 Sep 2022]

#Cyber

 

Hong Kong

HKMA sets out policy stance and next steps on retail CBDC (e-HKD)

The HKMA has released a position paper titled “e-HKD: Charting the Next Steps” to set out its policy stance and next steps on retail central bank digital currency (CBDC), ie, e-HKD.

As part of its “Fintech 2025” strategy to future-proof Hong Kong in terms of CBDC readiness (see our previous update), the HKMA has examined the prospect of issuing e-HKD in Hong Kong and conducted two rounds of market consultation, one on high-level technical design and the other on key policy and design issues (see our previous update). The respondents were generally supportive of the e-HKD initiative but pointed out the need to further examine issues such as privacy protection, legal considerations, and use cases.

Taking into account the findings of the study and the feedback received, the HKMA plans to take the following steps to pave the way for implementation of the e-HKD:

  • Laying the technology and legal foundations for the implementation of the e-HKD – The HKMA will formulate a plan for developing the wholesale layer of the two-tier e-HKD system.  It will also identify and examine areas to prepare for legislative amendments, with a view to enabling the issuance of a digital form of fiat currency with legal tender status in Hong Kong.
  • Taking deep dives into use cases as well as application, implementation, and design issues – This will run in parallel to the above.  The HKMA will conduct a series of pilots in close collaboration with various stakeholders to gain actual experience.
  • Launching the e-HKD – The HKMA will consolidate the outcomes of the above steps for more thorough implementation planning, and will set the timeline for launching the e-HKD.  The timing will depend on the progress made in the above steps, as well as the pace of relevant local and international market development.  [20 Sep 2022]
#CBDCs
FSTB, SFC and Invest Hong Kong exchange viewpoints with industry leaders to foster development of STOs in Hong Kong

The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB), the SFC and Invest Hong Kong co-hosted two meetings with security token offering (STO) industry representatives on 14 and 16 September 2022 to foster the development of STOs in Hong Kong.

Mr Joseph Chan, the Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, reiterated the Government’s commitment in supporting the healthy growth of fintech, including STOs, in Hong Kong that meet the relevant regulatory and compliance requirements, particularly relating to investor protection and money laundering and terrorist-financing risks.

Ms Elizabeth Wong, the Director of Licensing and Head of Fintech unit of the SFC, expressed the SFC’s support of the virtual asset industry, particularly in the use of distributed ledger technology in security offerings which may bring efficiency, transparency and lower costs.  She clarified questions and market misconceptions relating to a range of topics from STOs to the SFC’s regulatory principles, and encouraged firms that are interested in STOs to discuss their proposals with the Fintech unit of the SFC.  [19 Sep 2022] 

#Tokens

#VirtualAssets

#DLT 

 

Singapore

MAS and IFSCA sign FinTech Co-operation Agreement

MAS and the International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) of India have signed a FinTech Co-operation Agreement to facilitate regulatory collaboration and partnership in FinTech.

The agreement will promote the following:

  • Regulatory Sandbox Collaboration – MAS and IFSCA will leverage existing regulatory sandboxes in their respective jurisdictions to support experimentation of technology innovations. This includes referral of companies to each other’s regulatory sandboxes and enable innovative cross-border experiments in both jurisdictions. The agreement will also allow MAS and IFSCA to evaluate the suitability of use cases which could benefit from collaboration across multiple jurisdictions, and invite relevant jurisdictions to participate in a Global Regulatory Sandbox.
  • Sharing of Information – MAS and IFSCA will share non-supervisory related information and developments on innovation in financial products and services, facilitate discussions on emerging FinTech issues and participate in joint innovation projects.  [18 Sep 2022]
#RegSandbox

#Innovation

 

Thailand

BoT Assistant Governor delivers opening remarks at TB-CERT seminar

The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has published the opening remarks delivered by Ms Siritida Panomwon Na Ayudhya, Assistant Governor, Payment Systems Policy and Financial Technology Group at the TB-CERT Cybersecurity Annual Conference 2022 Seminar: Next Chapter – Building Trust and Collaboration. The Assistant Governor noted the important role which cooperation within the financial services sector, and with national and international organisations, can play in reducing the risk of successful cyber-attack and digital fraud.  [22 Sep 2022]

#CyberAttack

#DigitalFraud

 

India

RBI Governor addresses Mumbai FinTech Festival

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has published the remarks delivered by Shri Shaktikanta Das, Governor, at the Global Fintech Festival in Mumbai.  In an address titled, Fintech as a Force Multiplier, the RBI Governor noted the ‘rapid progress in the financial services sector’ and the ‘exponential growth of technology enablers in India’. He outlined various recent innovations and developments in the Indian financial sector and mapped out the road ahead for FinTech in India – identifying both challenges and opportunities.  [20 Sep 2022]

#FinTech
See also: MAS and IFSCA sign FinTech Co-operation Agreement above
#FinTech

 

US

SEC orders crypto company to pay $35 million to harmed investor fund for unregistered crypto asset offering

The SEC has issued a cease-and-desist order against a software development company and its CEO for the unregistered offer and sale of crypto asset securities from April 2018 through to July 2018. The SEC also charged a crypto influencer for failing to disclose compensation he received from the company for publicly promoting its tokens and for failing to file a registration statement with the SEC for tokens that he resold. The company and its CEO agreed to settle and to collectively pay more than $35 million into a fund for distribution to harmed investors. According to the SEC’s order, the company and its CEO raised $30 million from 4,000 investors in the US and abroad by offering and selling crypto asset securities to raise money to further develop the company’s “no-code” software platform. As stated in the order, the company told investors that its tokens would increase in value. The order also finds that the tokens, as offered and sold, were securities, were not registered with the SEC, and were not applicable for a registration exemption. The SEC’s order finds that the company violated the offering registration provisions of Sections 5(a) and 5(c) of the Securities Act of 1933. Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, the company agreed to destroy its remaining tokens, request the removal of its tokens from trading platforms, and publish the SEC’s order on its website and social media channels. The company’s CEO, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, agreed to refrain, for a period of five years, from participating in offerings of crypto asset securities. The SEC orders the company to pay $30 million in disgorgement, $4,624,754 in prejudgment interest, and a $500,000 civil penalty. The SEC’s order imposes a $250,000 civil penalty against the company’s CEO.

The SEC’s complaint against the crypto influencer alleges that he purchased $5 million worth of the company’s tokens and promoted the tokens on various social media platforms from approximately May 2018 to July 2018. The influencer allegedly failed to disclose that the company had agreed to provide him a 30 percent bonus on the tokens that he purchased, as consideration for his promotional efforts. The influencer also allegedly organized an investing pool of at least 50 individuals to whom he offered and sold tokens, despite not registering the offering with the SEC as required by federal securities laws and despite the lack of an applicable exemption from registration. The SEC’s complaint charges the influencer with violating the offering registration provisions of Section 5(a) and (c) of the Securities Act and with violating Section 17(b) of the Act and seeks injunctive relief, disgorgement plus prejudgment interest, and civil penalties. [19 Sep 2022] 

#Cryptoassets
Treasury seeks input on illicit finance, national security risks posed by digital assets

The U.S. Department of the Treasury has filed a Request for Comment (RFC) to seek feedback on the illicit finance and national security risks posed by digital assets. The filing is pursuant to President Biden’s Executive Order, Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets, and the subsequent Illicit Finance Action Plan released by the Treasury Department last week.

The RFC is open for comment through November 3, 2022.  [19 Sep 2022]

#DigitalAssets 
Treasury publishes reports on digital assets

The U.S. Department of the Treasury published three reports pursuant to Sections 4, 5 and 7 of President Biden’s Executive Order 14067, Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets. The reports address the future of money and payment systems, consumer and investor protection and illicit finance risks:

#DigitalAssets  

 

 

Ukraine-related sanctions information

Regular updates on sanctions and other developments that may impact businesses with interests or operations in Ukraine and/or Russia are available on our FSR and Corporate Crime Notes blog here.


Disclaimer

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore. Where advice on Singapore law is required, we will refer the matter to and work with licensed Singapore law practices where necessary.