中国人民银行于2019年12月5日启动了金融科技创新监管试点工作,制定了金融科技监管基本规则,并将推动开展试点金融科技 “监管沙盒”。业内人士认为,随着监管机构不断完善细节,这将成为金融科技在中国进一步发展的重要推动力。

 

“近年来,中国的金融科技服务和产品发展迅速;这是中国金融科技监管发展的里程碑之一。”史蒂文生黄律师事务所合伙人徐凯怡(Heidi Chui)律师表示。

徐律师指出,央行推出此项试点政策的目的是为了制定金融科技监管的基本规则,以及信息及数据披露、金融科技产品发行和保护大众投资者等方面的具体办法。

除了对北京市率先开展金融科技创新监管试点的起到公开支持作用以外,试点政策还引入了中国版的“监管沙盒”。

“尽管公告并未给出试点政策的具体内容,但央行明确表示了支持北京作为监管试点城市的目的和意图——在法律法规的要求之外,探索构建符合中国国情、与国际接轨的金融科技创新监管工具,从而帮助金融机构利用信息技术提高金融服务和产品的质量和效率。”徐律师解释道。

安理国际律师事务所北京和上海办事处的管理合伙人何志恒(Victor Ho)律师也认为,重点推出针对中国市场的“监管沙盒”有利于试验和创新。

他说:“需要着重指出的是,中国的金融科技环境很独特,在某些领域,其发展程度远超其他司法管辖区。该试点政策应被视为是中国为探索制定更加成熟的金融科技监管政策而迈出的新一步,旨在促进中国金融科技的进一步发展。”

何律师强调说,中国在成功采用新技术和创新方面一向表现出色,因此对进一步的创新探索、技术试验及采用起到积极的推动作用。

试点政策的具体内容尚未公布,鉴于中国人民银行有意建立与国际同行同等水平的“监管沙盒”,“在准备建立自己的‘监管沙盒’时,中国金融机构可能会参考英国、澳大利亚、新加坡和中国香港特别行政区等不同司法管辖区现行的‘监管沙盒’。”徐律师指出。

尽管中国正在通过与其他国家的做法和标准进行基准测试来向其他国家学习,但“沙盒”将会进行相应调整,从而更加符合中国监管机构的总体设想。

何律师指出,中国监管机构拒绝在“沙盒”制度的设计和实施中在金融许可要求方面进行妥协。“因为中国监管机构认为,试点政策不仅肩负着鼓励创新的使命,同时还是一种旨在解决风险防范问题的平衡方法。”

因此,根据中国版的“沙盒”制度,允许进入“沙盒”的参与者必须是现有的金融许可证持有人,而不是允许尚未取得金融许可证的科技企业进入“沙盒”,并在这些企业离开“沙盒” 后再向其颁发金融许可证,何律师继续解释道。一旦(此类许可证持有人的)金融科技项目退出了“沙盒”,它们将与其他常规的金融产品和服务受到同样形式的监管。

金融科技律师的机遇

这项试点政策表明,中国正在积极探索现行法律法规能否以及如何适用于金融科技;同时通过制定更加细化的金融科技监管方法以应对各种风险。在此过程中,法律专业人士被视为十分关键的参与者。

何律师表示:“除了宣布启动‘监管沙盒’之外,还对于律师等关键的专业中介机构在金融业和金融科技生态系统中所扮演的重要角色反复给予了具体的认可。这令人很兴奋,因为这既认识到法律服务性质的不断变化,也肯定了专业服务提供商对这一领域发展的重要作用。”

从事这一创新、颠覆性的行业,律师们所面临的挑战不仅在法律和监管领域,还要求他们精通相关技术领域的知识。

“虽然不太可能要求所有的律师都对技术有较为深入的了解;但作为金融科技领域的律师,需要做到对于技术没有畏惧感,同时培养协作、合作技能,这些是非常重要的。”何律师说。

影响深远的持续性工作

尽管中国监管机构已经加强了监管措施,主要针对一系列关键问题,如金融消费者保护、网络安全和数据保护,以及某些高风险子行业,如P2P,以及贷款许可证持有人通过金融科技平台引流并进行的“联合贷款”,但目前仍在自上而下建立一套结构完整的综合监管框架,何律师说。

他说:“虽然诸如参与者资格要求、自律规则以及监管机构在准入和对准入项目的持续监管方面的自由裁量权等关键问题尚待确定,但应该会出台相关的规定。”他说。

“完善对金融科技的监管意味着为投资者和企业提供更好的保护,这将进一步增强他们在中国投资金融科技产品或服务的信心和意愿。”徐律师补充道。

 

First in Fintech

China’s new regulatory sandbox for financial technology is being hailed as a boon for the further development of the industry in the world’s second largest economy.

 

On Dec. 5, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) launched the pilot project of regulation on fintech innovation, providing basic rules for fintech super-vision and initiating the test run for a new PRC regulatory sandbox.

“It is one of the milestones in the development of PRC fintech supervision given the rapid evolvement of the fintech services and products in the PRC in recent years,” says Heidi Chui, partner at Stevenson, Wong & Co.

Chui notes that the goal of this PBOC pilot policy is to establish fundamental rules for fintech regulation and measures regarding information/data disclosure, the issuance of fintech products and protection of the investing public.

Besides being considered PBOC’s open support to implement the pilot policy in Beijing, the pilot policy is also an introduction of the PRC version of the regulatory sandbox. 

Chui explains: “Although the announcement does not provide the details of this pilot policy, PBOC clearly expressed the purpose and intention to support Beijing as the pilot city, which is, in addition to the legal and regulatory requirements, to explore fintech innovation regulatory tools which are up to the international standards and correspond to the demands and features of the PRC market environment so that the financial institutions will utilise information technology for the improvement of the quality and efficiency of financial services/products.”

Victor Ho, managing partner of Allen & Overy’s Beijing and Shanghai offices, also believes that the highlighted launch of a China-specific regulatory sandbox will foster experimentation and innovation.

“It is important to point out that the Chinese fintech environment is unique and, in certain areas, far more evolved than other jurisdictions,” he says. “The pilot policy should be seen as an additional incremental step towards a well-considered policy of fostering the evolution of fintech in China.”

Ho emphasises that the country has a significant track record in the successful adoption of technology and innovation which encourages further innovative explorations, technology testing and adoption.

The details of the pilot policy are yet to be released, but considering PBOC’s intention to set up a regulatory sandbox on par with the international counter-parts, “PRC financial institutions may make reference to the current regulatory sandboxes in different jurisdictions such as the UK, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong to get prepared for the regulatory sandbox in PRC,” Chui suggests.

Although China is learning from other countries by benchmarking its practices and standards with the peers, the sandbox is also gauged to better fit into the overall vision of the Chinese regulator.

Ho notes that the Chinese regulator refuses to compromise financial licensing requirements in the design and implementation of the sandbox regime. “This is because the Chinese regulator is of the view that the pilot policy not only carries with it an innovation encouragement mission, but also a balanced approach designed to address risk prevention.”

Accordingly, rather than admitting unlicensed tech companies into the sandbox and issuing licenses after they exit the box, under the Chinese version of the sandbox regime, participants which are admitted into the sandbox are required to be existing financial license holders, ho continues to explain. Once fintech projects (of such license holders) exit the box, they will be supervised in the same way as other conventional financial products/services.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR LAWYERS

The pilot policy is a sign that China is proactively exploring whether and how the existing laws and regulations apply to fintech while seeking to formulate a more granular approach to fintech regulation to address various risks. And legal professionals are crucial stake-holders during this process.

“Alongside the announcement to launch the regulatory sandbox, there is specific and repeated recognition of the critical roles played by key professional intermediaries such as lawyers in the financial sector and fintech ecosystem,” says Ho. “This is exciting as it recognizes both the changing nature of legal services as well as how important professional service providers are to the development of this area.”

The challenge for lawyers working in this innovative yet disruptive industry is to be fluent in not only the legal and regulatory areas, but also the techno-logical ones.

“While understanding technology may not be possible for all lawyers, not fearing the technology but also developing collaborative and partnering skills are crucial for fintech lawyering,” says Ho.

ONGOING EFFORTS

Although the Chinese regulator has strengthened its supervision over a series of critical issues such as financial consumer protection, cyber security and data protection, and certain high-risk subsectors such as P2P and “joint lending” (between lending license holders and fintech platforms), it is still in the process of establishing a structured and integrated regulatory framework from the top to the bottom, according to Ho.

“Perfecting the regulation of fintech usually means better protection for both investors and corporations, and it would further bolster their confidence and willingness to invest in fintech products or services in the PRC,” Chui adds.

 

 

To contact the editorial team, please email ALBEditor@thomsonreuters.com. 

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