REGISTER

During its meeting on 5 July 2017, the 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 centre is enhanced.

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 simplifications are envisaged:

First, 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.

Furthermore, 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.

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.

Yet another amendment which concerns the Banking Act (BankA) was already addressed by 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.

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