This is already the third edition of The Financial Technology Law Review. If anything, concerns about certain aspects of the new developments that blockchain, Big Data and artifical intelligence (AI) trigger in the finance sector have increased since the first edition. In particular, developments such as the announcement of Facebook's Libra project or certain aspects of AI continue to worry regulators. However, the fact that certain high-profile projects receive critical attention should not obscure the fact that fintech has moved to become quite an established part of the financial ecosystem. Both financial market participants and their legal advisers already have considerable experience in implementing fintech projects by now. Not only are a significant number of start-ups presenting new fintech projects, but more and more established market participants such as banks, insurance companies and exchanges are setting up fintech labs and experiments, in part also implementing fintech projects
After the initial hype, the number of active cryptocurrencies imitating Bitcoin and Ethereum have diminished considerably. Other developments continue, in particular, exploring the new ways of organising business that stablecoins and security tokens may offer. The use of Big Data and AI, closely interlinked, is starting to move from exploratory projects to the application stage. After the widespread scepticism that was referred to in the preface to the second edition of this book, market participants are again starting to see the opportunities these new technologies offer, even if not all projects will lead to a disruption of the industry. A new realism and a greater awareness of the opportunities and risks involved seem to have arrived. It may be that the current corona-virus crisis will even encourage this development, as many enterprises are in the process of furthering the digitalisation of their business.
Though the regulators' initial surprise about the sheer dynamism of these projects has ebbed, there are numerous initiatives both on the national and on the international level to provide sandboxes for fintech start-ups and to regulate fintech. Implementation of an effective anti-money laundering system continues to concern not only the regulators, but also banks and other financial market participants. Unless the industry can be certain that participating in the crypto-economy will not lead to increased anti-money laundering risks, established financial players remain cautious. However, even the Bank for International Settlement, after highly critical initial statements, initiated a discussion paper on designing prudential treatment for cryptoassets in December 2019, and the FATF published guidance on virtual assets in June 2019.
The national solutions chosen vary considerably between jurisdictions, not only owing to different regulatory cultures, but also to differences in the treatment under contract and tort law of some of the new issues arising. In the absence of a harmonised international regime, the structured collection of overviews on certain aspects of fintech law and regulation this book contains continues to be valuable not only for the international practitioner, but also for anyone looking for inspiration on how to deal with hitherto unaddressed and unthought-of issues under the national law of any country.
The authors of this publication are from the most widely respected law firms in their jurisdictions. They each have a proven record of experience in the field of fintech; they know both the law and how it is applied. We hope that you will find their experience invaluable and enlightening when dealing with the varied issues fintech raises in the legal and regulatory field.
The emphasis of this book is on the law and practice of each of the jurisdictions, but discussion of emerging or unsettled issues has been provided where appropriate. The views expressed are those of the authors and not of their firms, nor of the editor or the publisher. In a fast-changing environment, every effort has been made to provide the latest intelligence on the current status of the law.
Thomas A Frick
Niederer Kraft Frey