On 3 April 2020, the EC launched two consultations:

  1. A consultation on a new digital finance strategy (DFS) for Europe / FinTech action plan – available here.
  2. A consultation on a retail payment strategy (RPS) – available here.

Both consultations are open for comments until 26 June 2020.

Consultation on DFS / fintech

In the Commission’s own words: 

“It is crucial that Europe grasps all the potential of digital age across the economy, including in the financial sector.

As set out in the Commission work programme, given the broad and fundamental nature of the challenges ahead for the financial sector, the Commission will propose in Q3 2020 a new digital finance strategy / FinTech action plan that sets out a number of areas that public policy should focus on in the coming five years.

This new strategy will build on the work carried out during the previous mandate, in particular in the context of the FinTech action plan. It will take into consideration all the recent market and technological developments that are likely to impact the financial sector in the near future.

Responses to this consultation will inform forthcoming work on a digital finance strategy / FinTech action plan.”

This consultation is structured in three sections:

  1. ensuring that the EU financial services regulatory framework is fit for the digital age;
  2. enabling consumers and firms to reap the opportunities offered by the EU-wide Single Market for digital financial services; 
  3. promoting a data-driven financial sector for the benefit of EU consumers and firms.

The consultation seeks to avoid duplications with two other consultations that the EC  launched on 19 December 2019  on “an EU framework for markets in crypto-assets” available here and on “Digital Operational Resilience Framework for financial services: making the EU financial sector more secure” available here.

In addition to the new DFS/fintech action plan that the EC announced for Q3 2020, the EC indicated that we may also expect new policies and strategies on:

  • Data – see the 19 February 2020 EC Communication on “A European strategy for data” here – the deadline for comments is 31 May 2020
  • Artificial intelligence – see the 19 February 2020 EC “White Paper on Artificial Intelligence – A European approach to excellence and trust” – here– the deadline for comments is 31 May 2020
  • Platforms 
  • Cybersecurity

Consultation on retail payments 

Again, in the EC’s own words:

“Digitalisation and new technologies have prompted the emergence of innovative payments, but Europeans are not fully benefitting, as faster, more innovative payments remain domestic, or are not yet available on a large or European scale. In the face of this and the challenges brought by big techs, Europe needs a strategic vision to ensure that consumers and companies fully reap the benefits of an integrated market, offering secure, fast, convenient, accessible and affordable payment services.

This public consultation … is a key step towards the adoption of a retail payments strategy for Europe.

The outcome of this public consultation will help the Commission prepare its retail payments strategy to be published in Q3 of 2020.”

The questionnaire is focused on four key objectives:

  1. Fast, convenient, safe, affordable and transparent payment instruments, with pan-European reach and “same as domestic” customer experience;
  2. An innovative, competitive, and contestable European retail payments market;
  3. Access to safe, efficient and interoperable retail payments systems and other support infrastructures;
  4. Improved cross-border payments, including remittances, facilitating the international role of the euro.

As mentioned above, the outcome of this consultation will help the Commission prepare for its RPS, to be published in Q3 2020. 
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Should you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to contact one of the members of the Bird & Bird global payments team.

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By Scott McInnes, Ivan Sagál, Kristiina Lehvilä, Dr. Michael Juenemann, Konrad Siegler, Stefano Febbi, Slawomir Szepietowski, Adrian Calvo, José Luis Lorente Howell, Hans Svensson, Trystan Tether, Annette Printz Nielsen, Cathie-Rosalie Joly.