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SEC creates office for fintech innovation

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Friday launched a new office under its Corporate Governance and Finance Department (CGFD) that will focus on regulating the use of financial technology (fintech) within the country.

“The commission has supported new and emerging business concepts while taking a proactive stance against any excessive risk buildup to ensure market integrity,” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said in a media briefing on Friday.

The PhiliFintech Innovation Office (PIO) will be creating policies for existing and new fintech innovations.

New fintech firms applying for registration will need to reach out to the PIO. Existing fintech companies that have been operating sans the proper regulation or authorization and those that will introduce new products will also be facilitated by the PIO.

The innovation office can also provide “regulatory clarifications” or “regulatory guidance” to fintech firms, wherein it can guide these firms to which regulations apply to them and even assist them in registration.

It also aims to “capacitate the commission with technical expertise” to regulate these fintech innovations, while promoting an “innovative culture” in the commission.

“The SEC established its innovation office… modeled after existing frameworks, structures, and the best practices of other jurisdictions, but we have customized it to fit the fintech landscape here in the Philippines,” SEC Commissioner Kelvin Lester K. Lee said.

The PIO will document and analyze fintech business models to allow the SEC to formulate appropriate regulatory responses to protect investors and to promote the growth of these firms.

Participants will also be allowed to pitch regulations through industry

consultations or “Present Me Anything Sessions,” either with the PIO or the commission. The commission aims to work closely with industry participants.

The PIO is working on a “Regulatory Genome Project” with the University of Cambridge.

“It is a transformation initiative to sequence the world’s vast amount of regulatory data and text, create a comprehensive repository of information to be used by agencies, regulators, and businesses around the world,” Mr. Lee said.

It is also conducting a “domestic industry mapping,” to document local fintech participants that are under the SEC’s jurisdiction.

“We will also endeavor to finalize the DAO (digital asset offerings) and DAX (digital asset exchange) rules with the commission’s own Markets and Securities Regulation Department,” Mr. Lee said, adding that the PIO will also work with the CGFD for memorandums on online lending apps.

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