FinTech: what is it?

FinTech is the abbreviation for Financial Technology, namely the application of technology to the delivery of financing, payment, investment and consulting services, which has become a powerful driver of innovation in the financial services market.

The role of public authorities and the Bank of Italy

In this FinTech innovation environment, public authorities are being called on to carefully analyse existing FinTech examples to identify initiatives and projects that protect public interest, thereby ensuring a proper balance between the opportunities and the risks of the innovation process.

As part of this the Bank of Italy takes an active role in the work of international committees and bodies to establish a framework of harmonized rules to support the virtuous development of financial innovation. These include Italy's Financial Stability Committee, the Basel Committee, the European Central Bank (ECB), the European Banking Authority (EBA) and the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA).

The Bank of Italy closely follows technological developments in the financial field because of the potential opportunities they offer to expand the channels for providing services to users (consumers and businesses), reducing costs, improving service quality and fostering financial inclusion.

In pursuing its institutional objectives, the Bank of Italy seeks to improve its capacity to analyse developments in the financial markets and at the same time open up new channels of dialogue with operators who would like to propose innovative technological and organizational solutions in the financial services area, with the additional goal of making the domestic market more attractive.

The 'FinTech Channel' initiative

Objective

In launching this initiative - called the 'FinTech Channel' - the Bank of Italy seeks to support innovation processes in the regulatory arena, adopting a forward-looking approach. To help achieve this objective, this page contains information and documentation on developments in the relevant international and national regulations (see 'FURTHER INFORMATION' below).

The Bank of Italy has also set up a new dedicated email address (canale-fintech@bancaditalia.it) through which operators can present financial services projects that contain innovative features involving the type of services offered and the technology used to deliver them (for example, blockchains, artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data).

Who can use the 'FinTech Channel'?

Active start-ups and firms that would like to offer technological solutions to banks and financial intermediaries can contact the Bank of Italy through the dedicated email address.

Applications submitted will undergo multifunctional screening that can be tailored to each situation examined in terms of timing and procedures. In the course of the review operators will be given feedback through meetings and telephone calls, for example.

Procedure

The Bank of Italy's review starts when the operator fills out and submits the form describing the general characteristics of its project and specific aspects relating to applicable rules and regulations, business models and potential compliance issues.