New regulations may be needed to keep up with the “speed and impact” of fintech developments, SEC Chairwoman Mary Jo White said Monday.
Speaking at the agency’s first Fintech Forum before White announced her departure as SEC chairwoman, White said that potential fintech regulation by the agency should be both “thorough and forward thinking,” and that the agency’s fintech working group will be focusing on “specific, tailored recommendations.”
Indeed, SEC Commissioner Michael Piwowar said at the event, which was held at SEC headquarters in Washington, that the Commission “should take the lead” on fintech regulation.
Global investment in fintech companies is estimated to be over $19 billion last year, White said, so “it is safe to say that fintech is well on its way to playing an important role in the future of the securities industry.”
(Related: SEC Chief White to Step Down in January)
White said the “rapid developments, private investment and growing attention from regulators” regarding fintech means regulators have an obligation to understand, monitor and encourage innovation in the space.
Recommendations from the fintech working group could encompass staff guidance, concept releases, proposed rulemaking, or “improved communications about existing regulations and interpretations that are not widely understood among innovators,” White said. The working group, however, which includes personnel from across the agency, may also conclude that, at least in part, the SEC’s “existing regulatory approach is already suitable to address new developments,” she said.
White said that the working group will be soliciting additional input from investors, innovators, and the “many other stakeholders” in these new technologies—which includes crowdfunding, cybersecurity, blockchain, as well as automated advice. “We are at the early phase, not the end, of our outreach,” with the Fintech Forum being an important part of that process, White said.