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Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Advocates talk, regulators listen

The payments industry faces increased scrutiny on both sides of the pond, according to recent reports, as regulators and advocates discuss secure, compliant approaches to cryptocurrencies, payments and consumer privacy.

As previously reported on Fri., July 21, 2023, in The Green Sheet, the Financial Stability Board, an international body that monitors the global financial system, proposed a regulatory framework designed to standardize crypto-asset management around the world. The FSB thanked collaborating standard-setting bodies (SSBs) for their participation in the work plan.

Noting the global standard is risk-based by design, the FSB stated that its guidance combines SSB activities with public monitoring and reporting to link risks to specific economic functions.

Nicolas Gilot, co-CEO and founder of Ultra, a PC video gaming ecosystem, commended the FSB's efforts and encouraged policymakers to tailor blockchain and decentralized finance regulations to sustain growth and foster innovation.

"While acknowledging the similarities between crypto-assets and traditional financial activities, policymakers must consider the unique aspects of blockchain and decentralized finance," he said. "A flexible and tailored approach is vital to enable growth and foster the industry's technological advancements."

View from Capitol Hill

On July 26, representatives and members of the Electronic Transactions Association attended the annual payments fly-in on Capitol Hill, where they met with Congressional payments caucuses and regulators. Discussions included payments technology and privacy concerns.

Scott Talbott, executive vice president of ETA, said, "ETA members are effective advocates for the payments industry. Our messages during our annual fly-in focused on support for the House bill regulating stablecoins, AI and innovation."

Talbott noted that ETA held its fly-in to support proposed legislation for stablecoin, scheduled for review the following day by House Financial Services Committee, stating the bill provides a much-needed framework for private stablecoins by applying the same regulations as those in place for capital, liquidity and disclosures. The ETA shared its views in a July 26, letter to the HFSC, he noted, which included the following guiding principles:

  1. Provide a path for banks and fintechs
  2. Tailored regulations for issuers
  3. Protecting consumers
  4. State-chartered and federally issued payment stablecoins
  5. Seamless integration of stablecoins in payments
  6. Quality of stablecoin reserves & maintenance of reserves

"The payments industry looks forward to incorporating the strengths of digital assets into the modern digital payments system," he said, adding that the HFSC favorably passed the ANS of H.R. 4766, the "Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act of 2023," which will be sent to the House of Representatives for review and consideration.

A copy of the bill is available at www.congress.gov/118/bills/hr4766/BILLS-118hr4766ih.pdf

View from Westminster and Whitehall

A coalition of UK retailers is urging policymakers to speed passage of the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2), which includes Smart Data reforms, a provision designed to promote safe data sharing for consumers who pay for products and services directly from their bank accounts. Noting that more than seven million consumers are using open banking services for financial applications, the retailers want to promote open banking payments in additional markets, such as grocery stores, telecoms and utilities.

Tony Craddock, director general of The Payments Association, pointed out that the proposed changes to open banking regulations will ensure that a common data standard is adopted within a realistic timeframe. "It's only by setting standards that can be used across sectors that we can [capitalize] on our leadership in open banking," he said in a July 31, statement.

The coalition, led by John Penrose, managing partner for Weston-Super-Mare and author of a report on UK competition policy, includes NatWest, TISA, Financial Data and Technology Association, The Payments Association, Open Banking Excellence (OBE), and fintechs Ozone API and Icebreaker One.

Penrose noted that open banking and smart data are transforming UK banking, by providing more affordable and higher-value services.

"It has become a global UK success story, with British firms and exporters leading the way around the world," he said. "But rivals in other countries won't stand still, so now we've got to roll the same success out across the rest of our economy to give us better deals and create world-leading firms in sectors like online retailing or energy too." end of article

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