Fintech

The White House, Donald Trump, Wall Street and fintech

The White House, Donald Trump, Wall Street and fintech. Main image: pantid123, Shutterstock.com
Written by Chris Skinner

What will happen to fintech in the US once Donald Trump settles in to life at the White House? Story by Chris Skinner.

For those who weren’t looking, you may have missed the release of A Framework for FinTech white paper released by the White House last Friday. It’s the output of the work performed by the National Economic Council’s Adrienne Harris and her team, who I’ve been delighted to support.

The paper represents the policy objectives for fintech, and a statement of the principles of how the regulators and government should support fintech developments. In brief:

Government policy objectives for financial services

  • Foster positive financial services innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Promote safe, affordable, and fair access to capital
  • Strengthen financial inclusion and health in the US and abroad
  • Address financial stability risks
  • Further a 21st century financial regulatory framework
  • Maintain national competitiveness

Government statement of principles for supporting fintech

  • Think broadly about the financial ecosystem
  • Start with the consumer in mind
  • Promote safe financial inclusion and financial health
  • Recognise and overcome potential technological bias
  • Maximise transparency
  • Strive for interoperability and harmonise technical standards
  • Build in cybersecurity, data security, and privacy protections from the start
  • Increase efficiency and effectiveness in financial infrastructure
  • Protect financial stability
  • Continue and strengthen cross-sector engagement.

The paper discusses this in more depth (11 pages in all), but has no call to action or next steps. This is because the new administration takes over this Friday, when President-elect Donald Trump takes office, and most of the incumbent White House staff leave and are replaced by the new president’s team. This amounts to 4,000 new staffers, with just the 100 butlers, maids, cooks, plumbers, engineers and florists remaining.

Ah well, it will be interesting to see how the maverick new president views fintech. If the members of Financial Innovation Now (Fin) [a public policy coalition comprising Amazon, Apple, Google, Intuit and PayPal] have their way, it will be substantial. In a letter to the president-elect sent last year, the alliance asks for the following:

Technology and the internet are changing the way consumers and small businesses manage money, access capital, and grow commerce. Financial regulators around the world are paying close attention to this transformation and actively working to adopt policies that attract investment and create jobs in these new services, ultimately benefiting their own consumers and businesses. While America’s financial regulators and Congress have recognized this potential on a bipartisan basis, more leadership and federal coordination is necessary.

You campaigned on a promise to bring change to Washington, and your business experience, unique for any incoming President in history, offers a rare leadership opportunity that we believe sets the stage for modernizing some of our most antiquated financial rules. We are optimistic that you and your administration are well positioned to make America great at innovating in financial services and growing these jobs here at home.

We urge your administration to adopt a national vision and coordinated strategy to 1) ensure we grow financial technology jobs in the US, and 2) foster competition and innovation in financial services to better serve consumers and the economy. To achieve these goals we offer the following recommendations:

  • Appoint financial regulators who value technology’s potential
  • Promote open, interoperable standards for card payment security
  • Streamline money transmission licensing
  • Ensure consumer access to financial accounts and data
  • Streamline small business access to capital via the internet
  • Help consumers and businesses manage money with real-time payments
  • Leverage mobile technology to increase financial inclusion.

Incoming administration

Like Brexit, no one knows what a Trump administration will look like or achieve yet. I thought it was going to be loaded with bank bias, bearing in mind that most of the administration are billionaires, millionaires and ex-bankers. As The Financial Times reported days after the election:

Wall Street is emerging as one of the biggest winners of the Trump transition with two of its biggest banks reporting stellar earnings off the back of the post-election market rally and Goldman Sachs veterans looking set to secure at least five top jobs in his administration. Although the president-elect attacked the financial sector during the campaign – and directly criticised rival Hillary Clinton for her ties to Goldman – the prospect of sweeping deregulation in banking and other US industries has buoyed global stock markets, helping Wall Street to record trading revenues.

But some of my American colleagues disagree with this view. The Hill says that:

The incoming administration has not actively addressed financial technology, but Trump has met with and encouraged leading technology companies. The financial industry, especially small and mid-sized banks, is poised to see potentially drastic changes in regulatory compliance requirements and the financial technology sector may finally receive clarity on their compliance obligations.

The OCC’s new charter, a version of the Financial Services Innovation Act, and a likely extreme reimagining of the CFPB may allow financial technology companies to bring products and services to market more quickly. These should provide them the confidence to know their compliance programs are appropriate and robust enough to withstand regulatory scrutiny.

We live in interesting times.

READ NEXT: Income inequality, Brexit, Trump and the role of fintech

– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here. Main image: pantid123, Shutterstock.com

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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