UK FCA Remains Blockchain Bullish with Establishment of International Regulatory Network

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) of the United Kingdom has announced the establishment of a collaborative entity, the Global Financial Innovation Network (GFIN).

Regulatory network

The newly-formed GFIN is a result of the FCA’s ongoing effort to create a global sandbox, a proposal that was announced in February. Currently, 11 collaborators are involved in the GFIN, comprised of international financial regulators and organizations such as the United States Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, Ontario Securities Commission and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

As written in the press release, the purpose of the network is to generate a reinvigorated concept of the ‘sandbox’, opening up an unprecedented global knowledge-sharing sandbox.

Christopher Woolard, FCA Executive Director of Strategy and Competition said, “The establishment of the GFIN can help share the experiences and knowledge from across different markets, while also providing a platform for innovative firms wishing to scale their propositions via testing in multiple countries.”

Feedback

Prior to the project update, the FCA had received 50 responses to the February paper that were on board for a collaborative regulatory effort. There were four key themes gleaned from the feedback, providing some precedent for how the GFIN should proceed.

Firstly, respondents were in favor of a regulatory safe-zone where regulators could work together to overcome common challenges, as well as addressing varying policy queries across multiple jurisdictions. This is accompanied by a new sense of efficiency, allowing for ideas to hit new international markets in a speedier fashion.

Furthermore, the feedback indicated that it was important for the new alliance to be transparent and fair, providing an equal field for those who desire to conduct cross-border tests.

Finally, disruptive new technologies with cross-border application are going pose challenges, technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Distributed Ledger technology (DLT) aka blockchain, will come under the watchful eye of the GFIN.

To nurture these technologies, the alliance is to improve regulations of securities and initial coin offerings (ICOs) as well as address concerns with know your customer (KYC) and data protection, among others.

Primary objectives

In addition to the guidance offered by the feedback, the GFIN has set out three primary functions. To act as a network of regulators that shares innovation knowledge and experiences, establish an open and constant dialogue for joint policy work, and create an environment for firms to pilot cross-border solutions.

The United Kingdom has been somewhat a pioneer in the blockchain regulation space, with the Bank of England making significant strides having recently completed a DLT Proof-of-Concept. The UK is being touted as a nation with the capacity to lead the blockchain industry, which was a conclusion of a 960-page analysis from DAG Global, Deep Knowledge Analytics and the Big Innovation Center.

 

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