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Fintech (financial technology) and the European Union: State of play and outlook

12-02-2019

The financial technology (fintech) sector encompasses firms that use technology-based systems either to provide financial services and products directly, or to make the financial system more efficient. Fintech is a rapidly growing sector: in the first half of 2018, investment in fintech companies in Europe alone reached US$26 billion. The fintech sector brings rewards including innovation and job creation, but also challenges, such as data and consumer protection issues, and the risk of exacerbating ...

The financial technology (fintech) sector encompasses firms that use technology-based systems either to provide financial services and products directly, or to make the financial system more efficient. Fintech is a rapidly growing sector: in the first half of 2018, investment in fintech companies in Europe alone reached US$26 billion. The fintech sector brings rewards including innovation and job creation, but also challenges, such as data and consumer protection issues, and the risk of exacerbating financial volatility or cybercrime. To tackle these multi-disciplinary challenges, policy- and lawmakers in the European Union (EU) have adopted and announced several initiatives, for instance on intra-EU payment services, data protection, crowdfunding and regulatory sandboxes. This briefing outlines current and upcoming fintech-related laws at EU level. It follows on from a March 2017 EPRS briefing that focused, inter alia, on the evolution, scope and economic prospects of fintech.

Cross-border euro transfers and currency conversions: A step forward in favour of the single market

23-10-2018

Cross-border payments are crucial for the integration of the EU economy, and play an important role in ensuring that citizens and enterprises from all EU Member States enjoy the same rights offered by the single market. Currently, restrictions and excessive costs affecting cross-border payments are an impediment to the completion of this market. Since the introduction of the euro, the EU has launched various initiatives to reduce the cost of cross-border transactions, among them a set of single euro ...

Cross-border payments are crucial for the integration of the EU economy, and play an important role in ensuring that citizens and enterprises from all EU Member States enjoy the same rights offered by the single market. Currently, restrictions and excessive costs affecting cross-border payments are an impediment to the completion of this market. Since the introduction of the euro, the EU has launched various initiatives to reduce the cost of cross-border transactions, among them a set of single euro payments area (SEPA) standards, regulations on cross-border payments, and the Payment Services Directives. Nevertheless, cross-border euro payments made in non-euro-area Member States are still subject to high fees. Furthermore, when paying with a card or making an ATM withdrawal in a country using a currency other than the euro, it is almost impossible to know exactly how much it is going to cost. On 28 March 2018, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 and aimed at making cross-border payments in euros cheaper across the entire EU, while also bringing more transparency to currency-conversion practices.

What if blockchain were to be truly decentralised?

27-09-2018

Technological systems, once introduced in a particular socio-economic context, often evolve in unforeseen ways and may fall prey to unexpected power relations. Blockchain, as a technology that relies on decentralisation to enable storing and securing data-based transactions without central administration, is currently facing significant centralisation pressures that may undermine the purpose of operating a decentralised blockchain network. But what if blockchain fulfilled its promise to be truly ...

Technological systems, once introduced in a particular socio-economic context, often evolve in unforeseen ways and may fall prey to unexpected power relations. Blockchain, as a technology that relies on decentralisation to enable storing and securing data-based transactions without central administration, is currently facing significant centralisation pressures that may undermine the purpose of operating a decentralised blockchain network. But what if blockchain fulfilled its promise to be truly decentralised?

What if blockchain offered a way to reconcile privacy with transparency?

27-09-2018

One of the most appealing aspects of blockchain technology is the degree of transparency that it can provide. Blockchain has the potential to improve supply chains and clinical trials, enforce the law, enable responsible consumption and enhance democratic governance through a traceability of information as a means of ensuring that nothing is unduly modified. The level of transparency that blockchain brings forward adds a degree of accountability that has not existed to date. At the same time, one ...

One of the most appealing aspects of blockchain technology is the degree of transparency that it can provide. Blockchain has the potential to improve supply chains and clinical trials, enforce the law, enable responsible consumption and enhance democratic governance through a traceability of information as a means of ensuring that nothing is unduly modified. The level of transparency that blockchain brings forward adds a degree of accountability that has not existed to date. At the same time, one of the most appealing aspects of blockchain technology is the degree of privacy that it can provide. How could blockchain safeguard the rights to privacy and control over one’s data, whilst promoting data transparency?

The advent of blockchain in trade

16-07-2018

Blockchain is a fairly new technology that is still evolving. Initially used for digital currencies, most research into this technology has been carried out for the finance industry. In recent years, however, research and development on supply chains and trade-related business processes have also gained ground. Start-ups and large companies have already exploited a wide range of blockchain-based applications in these areas, but the opportunities generated by this technology in international trade ...

Blockchain is a fairly new technology that is still evolving. Initially used for digital currencies, most research into this technology has been carried out for the finance industry. In recent years, however, research and development on supply chains and trade-related business processes have also gained ground. Start-ups and large companies have already exploited a wide range of blockchain-based applications in these areas, but the opportunities generated by this technology in international trade have yet to be fully exploited.

Virtual currencies in the Eurosystem: challenges ahead

16-07-2018

Speculation on Bitcoin, the evolution of money in the digital age, and the underlying blockchain technology are attracting growing interest. In the context of the Eurosystem, this briefing paper analyses the legal nature of privately issued virtual currencies (VCs), the implications of VCs for central bank’s monetary policy and monopoly of note issue, and the risks for the financial system at large. The paper also considers some of the proposals concerning central bank issued virtual currencies. ...

Speculation on Bitcoin, the evolution of money in the digital age, and the underlying blockchain technology are attracting growing interest. In the context of the Eurosystem, this briefing paper analyses the legal nature of privately issued virtual currencies (VCs), the implications of VCs for central bank’s monetary policy and monopoly of note issue, and the risks for the financial system at large. The paper also considers some of the proposals concerning central bank issued virtual currencies. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs.

Parlamendiväline autor

Rosa María LASTRA, Jason Grant ALLEN

Levelling off European cross-border payments in euros

09-07-2018

While the overall argument in favour of cheaper cross-border payments across the euro and non-euro Member States appears sensible, this impact assessment could have been stronger in terms of discussing the specifics of the financial infrastructure in non-euro Member States and the shortcomings of the cross-border payments market related to these specifics. A more detailed comparison of options including the economic impacts (particularly as related to SMEs) would have been helpful, as would be a ...

While the overall argument in favour of cheaper cross-border payments across the euro and non-euro Member States appears sensible, this impact assessment could have been stronger in terms of discussing the specifics of the financial infrastructure in non-euro Member States and the shortcomings of the cross-border payments market related to these specifics. A more detailed comparison of options including the economic impacts (particularly as related to SMEs) would have been helpful, as would be a more substantiated analysis of the feasibility of the envisaged monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain

05-07-2018

More and more regulators are worrying about criminals who are increasingly using cryptocurrencies for illegitimate activities like money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion. The problem is significant: even though the full scale of misuse of virtual currencies is unknown, its market value has been reported to exceed EUR 7 billion worldwide. This paper prepared by Policy Department A elaborates on this phenomenon from a legal perspective, focusing on the use of cryptocurrencies for financial ...

More and more regulators are worrying about criminals who are increasingly using cryptocurrencies for illegitimate activities like money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion. The problem is significant: even though the full scale of misuse of virtual currencies is unknown, its market value has been reported to exceed EUR 7 billion worldwide. This paper prepared by Policy Department A elaborates on this phenomenon from a legal perspective, focusing on the use of cryptocurrencies for financial crime, money laundering and tax evasion. It contains policy recommendations for future EU standards.

Parlamendiväline autor

Prof. Dr. Robby HOUBEN and Alexander SNYERS, University of Antwerp, Research Group Business & Law, Belgium

Virtual currencies and terrorist financing: assessing the risks and evaluating responses

04-06-2018

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the TERR Committee, explores the terrorist financing (TF) risks of virtual currencies (VCs), including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It describes the features of VCs that present TF risks, and reviews the open source literature on terrorist use of virtual currencies to understand the current state and likely future manifestation of the risk. It then reviews ...

This study, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the TERR Committee, explores the terrorist financing (TF) risks of virtual currencies (VCs), including cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. It describes the features of VCs that present TF risks, and reviews the open source literature on terrorist use of virtual currencies to understand the current state and likely future manifestation of the risk. It then reviews the regulatory and law enforcement response in the EU and beyond, assessing the effectiveness of measures taken to date. Finally, it provides recommendations for EU policymakers and other relevant stakeholders for ensuring the TF risks of VCs are adequately mitigated.

Parlamendiväline autor

Tom KEATINGE, David CARLISLE, Florence KEEN

Guarantee Fund for External Action and EIB external lending mandate

16-05-2018

In response to a sharp increase in the number of people trying to migrate to Europe illegally, and as part of the mid-term review of the European Investment Bank's external lending mandate (ELM), the Commission proposed an external investment plan to tackle the root causes of migration from countries neighbouring the European Union, consisting of a European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and quantitative and qualitative changes to the ELM. These changes entailed two legislative proposals ...

In response to a sharp increase in the number of people trying to migrate to Europe illegally, and as part of the mid-term review of the European Investment Bank's external lending mandate (ELM), the Commission proposed an external investment plan to tackle the root causes of migration from countries neighbouring the European Union, consisting of a European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) and quantitative and qualitative changes to the ELM. These changes entailed two legislative proposals. A compromise package was agreed in trilogue between Council and Parliament, and adopted at first reading during the February I 2018 plenary session. Both acts entered into force on 8 April 2018. Second edition. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

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