Swiss Federal Council puts new fintech rules into force

On 5 July 2017, the Swiss Federal Council adopted an amendment of the Banking Ordinance. It will enter into force on 1 August 2017. The revision should ensure that barriers to market entry for fintech firms are reduced and that the competitiveness of the Swiss financial center is enhanced.

As of 1 August, less stringent rules will apply to providers of digital financial services.
As of 1 August, less stringent rules will apply to providers of digital financial services.

The amendment to the Banking Ordinance (BankO) aims to regulate fintech firms which provide services outside normal banking business according to their risk potential. The following two simplifications are envisaged:

  • The exception provided for in the Banking Ordinance for the acceptance of funds for settlement purposes will apply explicitly for settlements within 60 days – in accordance with the practice up to now, a period of seven days applies.
  • An innovation area will be created: the acceptance of public funds up to CHF 1 million will no longer be classified as operating on a commercial basis in the future and will be exempt from authorisation. This change should allow firms to try out a business model before they are finally required to obtain authorisation in the case of public funds of over CHF 1 million. It should also be clearly stated to depositors that their deposits are not protected by deposit protection.

For Fintech startups and established banks

The regulatory simplifications apply not only for fintech firms, but also for established financial service providers. Banks should also be able to use the innovation area. This will ensure that the competition amongst the financial market participants is not distorted. Furthermore, the amendments have no influence on the applicability of the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Further adjustments planned

Yet another amendment which concerns the Banking Act (BankA) was already addressed by Swiss Parliament in the context of the deliberations on the Financial Services Act (FinSA) and the Financial Institutions Act (FinIA). In December 2016, the Council of States advocated that a new authorisation category is to be created in the BankA for companies that accept public funds of up to a maximum of CHF 100 million but do not invest funds or pay interest on funds. For the new authorisation category, there should be simplified authorisation and operating requirements relative to the current banking licence in the areas of accounting, auditing and deposit protection. The debate is to take place this autumn in the National Council.

The Federal Council will continue to closely follow further developments in the areas of digitalisation and fintech, and examine further regulatory measures. The corresponding work, i.e. on clarifying the legal qualification of virtual currencies, has been taken over and is to be swiftly pursued.

Driving innovation with InsurTech

The pace of change in the Financial Services industry is accelerating, and while the insurance industry won’t change overnight, many have begun to look outside their own organisations in order to respond to challenges and take opportunities. New products and services are developing which meet the needs of an expanding and changing customer base. Costs will begin to decrease as new ways of doing business evolve and emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) not only provide customers with a better experience, but also streamline back office operations. InsurTech is reshaping the insurance industry. Previously viewed as a disruptive force, it is now driving innovation across the sector.

Source: press release of Swiss Federal Council

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