ERFF kicked off 2018 with a technical workshop on the future of retail financial services and FinTech on 24th January. MEP Sven Giegold, who hosted the event, pinpointed the importance of balance – innovation and competition are to be encouraged, but consumers must be properly safe-guarded. Where is regulation appropriate and where does it harm development of new services and products that could benefit consumers?

There was plenty of enthusiasm for digitalisation, ‘bringing financial services into the 21st century’, from the policy makers and representatives of supervisory authorities, business, industry associations and consumers present. With PSD2 now applicable and the Commission’s Action Plan on FinTech due in March, the EC is seeking to create an environment that is favourable for disruptive innovation that fosters greater competition and consumer benefits.

But it’s not all plain sailing. Businesses at the workshop called for supervisors who understand the challenges and can create the right conditions for innovation. Supervisory complexity and a lack of harmonization across Europe remains an issue, particularly for smaller FinTech start-ups. And both business and consumer organisations called for clarity in areas such as ‘RegTech’, outsourcing to the cloud and roboadvice. As the use of AI expands relentlessly, business and consumers are asking questions about the inner workings of algorithms, the quality of their inputs, and their recommendations and outcomes.

‘Impulse statements’ were given by: MEP Sven Giegold (co-host with Martin Siecker, EESC); Peter Kerstens, DG FISMA, co-chair of the EC FinTech Task Force; Ralf Jacob, DG FISMA, HoU retail financial services; Chiara Mazzone, Innovation Policy Officer, Startups and Innovation Unit, European Commission (DG CNECT); Isabelle Buscke, Federation of German Consumer Organisations;  Mirèl ter Braak, Senior Policy Advisor, Financial Markets Authority, NL; Marc Roberts, FinTechs4Europe Association; Alex Merriman, PIMFA (ERFF member).