This week the European Commission released it’s FinTech Action Plan with significant coverage of blockchain and digital ledger technologies.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society said: “Technologies like blockchain can be game changers for financial services and beyond. We need to build an enabling framework to let innovation flourish, while managing risks and protecting consumers.”
The publication covered activities previously announced as well as new ones.
EU FinTech Lab
The Commission is establishing a Lab to improve knowledge and understanding among regulators and supervisors. The concern is not to be biased by particular vendors, hence the emphasis on a ‘neutral, non-commercial’ Lab.
The Labs cover multiple technologies, but for blockchain, the emphasis is on use cases and ID and authentication technologies.
The report reiterated the risks that ICOs present to investors, fears regarding money laundering, and public warnings made by various EU institutions. At the same time, they’re aware of the opportunity.
The Action Plan states “the aim should be to make sure, that EU firms, investors, and consumers can take advantage of this technical innovation within a fair and transparent framework to make Europe a leading player in developing new ways to rapidly fund growing businesses.”
Public consultations highlighted areas where current rules could constrain activity:
- jurisdictional issues about the law applicable and liability issues;
- validity and enforceability of smart contracts;
- uncertainties surrounding the legal status of ICOs
By Q2 2019 there will be a report outlining whether unjustified regulatory obstacles exist.
EU Blockchain Observatory
Last month the EU announced the Blockchain Observatory initiative which plans to
- propose actions, funding measures and a framework to enable scalability
- develop governance and standards
- support interoperability
There was a discussion about Fintech innovation hubs and sandboxes that already exist in 13 member states, and the plan is to establish EU best practice and encourage other countries to adopt these guidelines.