Technology-driven disruption has upended many industries – retail, entertainment, transportation, to name just a few – and now we are seeing it redefine financial services. The rise of Fintech is perhaps the most interesting industry transformation to study from a legal perspective because of the way it impacts complex financial services regulations. Regulatory frameworks that were created decades ago are being challenged by the rise of Internet and mobile-driven financial services providers. This course will hone in on a few areas where the US financial regulatory structure is being challenged by technological innovation and may require fresh thinking.
Financial services can be broken down into three distinct subsectors: 1) Insurance; 2) Retail Banking; and 3) Investment/Advisory Banking. This course will focus on how technology is transforming both retail and investment/advisory banking. Retail banking law was designed for a world of brick and mortar banks that accepted deposits and leveraged those deposits to provide commercial and personal loans. Investment/advisory banking law was designed for a world of a relatively small number of sophisticated investors. This traditional schema is being transformed, rapidly.
The smartphone is replacing the retail bank as the method by which a small business or consumer conducts their day-to-day banking activity. A 2015 report by Goldman Sachs found that 33% of millennials do not think they will need a traditional bank in the next five years. In fact, 73% of millennials reported that they are more excited about new offerings in the financial services space from the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon.
Moreover, in the financial services industry lines are blurring – financial tech companies are expanding financial services ecosystems and traditional financial services companies are expanding their digital capabilities. New business models are being created that leverage the data and capabilities afforded by the Internet, and seemingly diverse industries ranging from telecom to traditional banks are competing over similar financial services activities.
Crowdfunding, mobile payments, online lending, robo-advisors, and Bitcoin are new phenomenon that challenge existing regulatory structures. The SEC, Treasury Department, Office of Comptroller of Currency, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Federal Deposit Insurance Commission, Federal Reserve Bank, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Federal Trade Commission are just a few of the regulatory bodies that are increasingly exploring Fintech developments. Moreover, the courts have been faced with challenges to several federal and state laws that were written before modern technological innovations took hold and challenged existing concepts of Federalism. This class will focus in on these particular challenges, will question existing regulatory bodies, approaches and standards, as well as discuss the practicalities of alternative regulatory structures and rules.
The class will proceed in 4 parts. Part 1 will be an introduction to retail banking law and disruptions that are occurring due to Fintech. Part 2 will be an introduction to investment/advisory banking law and disruptions that are occurring due to Fintech. Part 3 will address cross-cutting horizontal disruptions. And, finally Part 4 will involve a high-level assessment of regulatory structures and approaches for Fintech. After this course, students should have a strong baseline knowledge of the myriad of legal and policy issues that exist in the Fintech arena.