DC Takes a Stab at Fintech, Mobile Payments Regulation

February 19, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

The growth of financial technology (fintech), including mobile payments, has been nothing short of explosive these last few years. So much so that it’s easy to see where some government groups might not only be concerned about the developments involved, but may also want to find ways to incorporate those developments into their own operations. Enter the District of Columbia, which recently tipped us off about establishing the Financial Services Regulatory Sandbox and Innovation Council to get a hand in on development operations.

The council, the reports note, is tasked with working to “…develop a blockchain and innovation regulatory framework to facilitate financial services innovation in the District.” First, it needs to discover that a regulatory sandbox to support that regulatory framework is viable, then it can proceed to the framework part.

Membership on the council will be extended to a range of figures in the fintech field, reports note, stretching from representatives of the insurance and securities fields to technology industry figures and even consumer representatives as well. Chairing the council will be the Commissioner for the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking.

The aforementioned commissioner, Stephen C. Taylor, noted “…Washington, DC, is a creative, tech-savvy city and as we grow, we will continue to explore ways to ensure that the District’s prosperity is inclusive; we will also champion innovation that could improve the availability, accessibility and affordability of financial services for all.”

The biggest issue here is just how much impact this council can actually have on fintech development. If it gets too closely involved, it’s a safe bet developers will simply leave town. Not closely involved enough and it just looks like a boondoggle set up around some sexy new buzzwords. While it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have figures in fintech together for a resource, as a touchstone for advice, or just helping new developers find access to development cash and tax breaks, there’s a lot of potential for this to go really wrong really quickly.

It will be interesting to see where this council goes, because it’s got at least some potential to help. It may not live up to that potential, though, so it will have to be watched carefully.