SEC Sees Opening to Regulate Fintech Developments

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By Rob Tricchinelli

Nov. 14 — The Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking to regulate financial technology firms that are moving into traditional lending, payment processing and capital formation, agency commissioners said Nov. 14.

“I believe the commission should take the lead regulatory role in the fintech space,” Commissioner Michael Piwowar said at a fintech forum at the agency’s Washington headquarters.

Many fintech firms are already registered with the SEC in variety of capacities, he said, and others give investment advice or make it easier for traders to clear and settle their transactions.

SEC action in the fintech arena could bump up against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s plans. The OCC is mulling a system to issue national charters to financial technology companies and has been taking some preliminary regulatory steps that could allow it to move forward by the end of the year.

Marketplace Lending, Blockchain

SEC members, though, say their agency has a role to play in regulating marketplace lending and firms that use distributed ledgers, like blockchain, to facilitate financial transactions.

The SEC can ensure that marketplace lending investors are given enough information to make good investment decisions, SEC Chairman Mary Jo White said at the same forum. “As investors are drawn into potentially higher yielding but riskier marketplace loans, information about the borrowers’ ability to repay the loan underlying the investment is obviously critical,” she said.

The agency is also examining the quality of disclosures that automated investment advisers, known as robo-advisers, give to their clients.

Outreach

The SEC has 11 regional offices, which Piwowar said could act as “intake centers” for fintech startups seeking guidance in navigating the securities regulatory regime.

White also noted the agency has created an internal fintech working group.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rob Tricchinelli in Washington at rtricchinelli@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phyllis Diamond at PDiamond@bna.com

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