A new report from the International Bar Association Banking Law Committee (IBA BLC), provides an overview of the financial technology (fintech) regulatory frameworks of 39 jurisdictions across Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, North America and

South America. The report, titled  Fintech: how is the world shaping the financial innovation industry?, addresses how different regulators around the world are dealing with the application of technology and innovation to banking and financial services as well as society’s present concerns. 

Carlos Maria Melhem, IBA BLC Membership Officer and a partner at Allende & Brea, stated: ‘Technology and innovation applied to the banking and financial business have shown a significant positive impact around the world not only in terms of financial inclusion but also in many other aspects critical for the development of countries. This special project is a great source of consultation to learn how more than 35 countries are approaching and regulating fintech.’

The fintech revolution has brought about important changes on a worldwide scale. Technology has become one of the most important tools in modern life and has deeply impacted the way in which business transactions are carried out, particularly in the banking and financial sectors. Fintech provides opportunities for reducing the gap between traditional financial users and people who may not have access to banking and payment services in general, thus helping to achieve financial inclusion.

Lukasz Szegda, IBA BLC Academic Liaison Officer and a partner at Wardynski & Partners, commented: ‘The fintech industry is multi-jurisdictional by its very nature. Our worldwide comparative fintech regulatory guide is designed to be a valuable resource for industry players seeking international expansion, as well as for their corporate counsels, and other international practitioners. It provides a comprehensive legal background in a given jurisdiction of interest across a broad spectrum of the fintech landscape. The guide is based on the contributions of leading fintech lawyers in their respective countries, and we are very grateful for their excellent effort.’

The report contains outlines of the laws and regulations governing five different aspects of fintech: financial innovation; crypto assets; payment service providers and digital wallets; open banking and special programmes supporting the fintech ecosystem. It also outlines the key elements to be taken into account when ensuring adequate regulations of fintechs in different jurisdictions, including:

Establishing a fintech regulatory framework: as fintechs become a relevant solution for financial business transactions, adequate and balanced legal frameworks are crucial to ensure the growth of fintech activities and innovation. At the same time, and considering that often the use of fintech products is not limited by geographical barriers, adapting a common base set of regulations in specific fields may be helpful to encourage fintech companies to provide services in multiple jurisdictions. Every country should develop adequate and specific fintech regulations, because it will not be sufficient to regulate fintechs through diffused and isolated norms.

Providing special support for fintechs: due to their presence and utility in most areas of modern life, every jurisdiction should promote fintechs in order to achieve their optimum usage and take advantage of the benefits they offer to users. The role that governments assume in encouraging the development of fintechs and promoting their use will be fundamental in order to achieve this. Developing open banking tools and digital wallets: Increasingly, financial transactions and personal banking is conducted via digital means such as smartphones and computers. It is vital that jurisdictions regulate the current ways used to control personal finances. Providing the possibility to have better options and benefits when carrying out financial activities online is essential.