FinTech Notes

2021

October 14, 2021

Virtual Assets and Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (2)

Description: The purpose of this note is to discuss the necessary anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) measures and provide examples of practical solutions to implement them. In June 2020, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) noted that both the public and private sectors have made progress in the implementation of the standards for virtual assets (VA), in particular through updates to national laws and the development of solutions to assist with the travel rule. However, challenges remain; many virtual asset service providers (VASPs) are only beginning to adopt the required AML/CFT measures, a number of jurisdictions are yet to implement the standards for VA and those that have are at the early stages of developing a supervisory regime for VASPs. At the time of drafting, no country had been assessed against the new standards and many country authorities were in the process of establishing how best to incorporate the new standards in their AML/CFT framework. For these reasons, this note does not refer to specific country examples. References to specific products and projects are made for illustrative purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of these initiatives. This Fintech Note is based on the FATF standards and guidance, in particular those aspects that pertain to VA and VASPs.

October 14, 2021

Virtual Assets and Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (1)

Description: The purpose of this note is to assist countries in their understanding and mitigation of the money laundering (ML), terror financing (TF), and financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (PF) risks related to virtual assets (VAs). This is the first of two Fintech Notes dedicated to VAs and anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT). This first note is broad in scope. It explains why VAs are vulnerable for misuse for ML/TF/PF purposes and clarifies which assets and service providers should be subject to AML/CFT measures. It discusses the measures that all countries should take, and the type of action necessary in instances of criminal misuse of VA. A second Fintech note focuses on the AML/CFT regulatory and supervisory framework for virtual asset service providers (VASPs). Both notes are based on Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards and draw heavily on the FATF’s 2019 “Guidance for a Risk-Based Approach to Virtual Assets and Virtual Asset Service Providers.” They aim at providing policy makers and authorities with AML/CFT responsibilities with an overview of the legal and operational considerations that the implementation of a sound AML/CFT framework for VAs and VASPs raises. In some instances, the notes make reference to specific types of VAs, VASPs, and related products. These references are made for illustrative purposes only, and do not constitute an endorsement of the specific VAs, VASPs, and related products. Finally, at the time of drafting, no country had been assessed against the new standards and many country authorities were in the process of establishing how best to incorporate the new standards in their AML/CFT framework. For these reasons, this note does not refer to specific country examples.

August 24, 2021

The Impact of Fintech on Central Bank Governance

Description: Fintech presents unique opportunities for central banks. The rapid changes in technology that are transforming the financial system will allow central banks to enhance the execution of various of their core functions, such as currency issuance and payment systems. But some aspects of fintech pose major challenges. Central banks have always been at the cutting edge of financial technology and innovation. In the past, the invention of the banknote, the processing of payments through debits and credits in book-entry accounts, and the successive transitions of interbank payment systems from the telegraph to internet protocols were all transformative innovations. Today, central banks are facing new and unprecedented challenges: distributed ledger technology, new data analytics (artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning), and cloud computing, along with a wider spread of mobile access and increased internet speed and bandwidth. The purpose of this note is to discuss the authors’ preliminary views on how, from a legal perspective, central banks can best deal with the impact of fintech on their governance. These preliminary views are based on a review of central banks’ reaction thus far to the challenges posed by fintech to the legal foundations of their governance.

2020

June 24, 2020

Distributed Ledger Technology Experiments in Payments and Settlements

Description: Major transformations in payment and settlements have occurred in generations. The first generation was paper-based. Delivery times for payment instruments took several days domestically and weeks internationally. The second generation involved computerization with batch processing. Links between payment systems were made through manual or file-based interfaces. The change-over period between technologies was long and still some paper-based instruments like checks and cash remain in use. The third generation, which has been emerging, involves electronic and mobile payment schemes that enable integrated, immediate, and end-to-end payment and settlement transfers. For example, real-time gross settlement systems have been available in almost all countries. DLT has been viewed as a potential platform for the next generation of payment systems, enhancing the integration and the reconciliation of settlement accounts and their ledgers. So far, experiments with DLT experimentations point to the potential for financial infrastructures to move towards real-time settlement, flatter structures, continuous operations, and global reach. Testing in large-value payments and securities settlement systems have partly demonstrated the technical feasibility of DLT for this new environment. The projects examined analyzed issues associated with operational capacity, resiliency, liquidity savings, settlement finality, and privacy. DLT-based solutions can also facilitate delivery versus payment of securities, payment versus payment of foreign exchange transactions, and efficient cross-border payments.

January 10, 2020

Institutional Arrangements for Fintech Regulation and Supervision

Description: Fintech developments are shaking up mandates within the existing regulatory architecture. It is not uncommon for financial sector agencies to have multiple policy objectives. Most often the policy objectives for these agencies reflect prudential, conduct and financial stability policy objectives. In some cases, financial sector agencies are also allocated responsibility for enhancing competition and innovation. When it comes to fintech, countries differ to some extent in the manner they balance the objectives of promoting the development of fintech and regulating it. Countries see fintech as a means of achieving multiple policy objectives sometimes with lesser or greater degrees of emphasis, such as accelerating development and spurring financial inclusion, while others may support innovation with the objective of promoting competition and efficiency in the provision of financial services. This difference in emphasis may impact institutional structures, including the allocation of staff resources. Conflicts of interest arising from dual roles are sometimes managed through legally established prioritization of objectives or establishment of separate internal reporting lines for supervision and development.

January 10, 2020

Regulation of Crypto Assets

Description: The rapid growth of crypto assets has raised questions about the appropriate regulatory perimeter and the ability of the existing regulatory architecture to adapt to changing conditions. Effective regulation of financial services promotes long- term economic stability and minimizes the social costs and negative externalities from financial instability. The same underlying principles for regulation should apply to nascent products and services based on innovative technologies, notwithstanding design challenges.

2019

July 15, 2019

The Rise of Digital Money

Description: This paper marks the launch of a new IMF series, Fintech Notes. Building on years of IMF staff work, it will explore pressing topics in the digital economy and be issued periodically. The series will carry work by IMF staff and will seek to provide insight into the intersection of technology and the global economy. The Rise of Digital Money analyses how technology companies are stepping up competition to large banks and credit card companies. Digital forms of money are increasingly in the wallets of consumers as well as in the minds of policymakers. Cash and bank deposits are battling with so-called e-money, electronically stored monetary value denominated in, and pegged to, a currency like the euro or the dollar. This paper identifies the benefits and risks and highlights regulatory issues that are likely to emerge with a broader adoption of stablecoins. The paper also highlights the risks associated with e-money: potential creation of new monopolies; threats to weaker currencies; concerns about consumer protection and financial stability; and the risk of fostering illegal activities, among others.