In recent years, the financial services industry has been stepping
into the digital world, with many
financial institutions also operating online. The evolution of
the use of software for the provision of financial services is also
known as "FinTech". Between 2010 and 2015, total global
investment in FinTech amounted to $49.7 billion. The most popular
FinTech areas are those of payment and lending services (consumer
and retail), block-chain services, such as bitcoin, and
cybersecurity and cloud-based services, such as market
monitoring and tracking.
Legislation regulating the information which must be provided on
a financial institution website and the manner in which this
information is to be presented are both factors which financial
services providers need to take into consideration. Below is an
outline of the principle Maltese rules and regulations which
financial institution websites must adhere to.
Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial Services
Key information about the financial institution's products
and services must be provided in at least one of the official
languages of Malta. Before the conclusion of a contract between the
financial institution and a third party, certain information about
the institution as the service provider, the financial service
itself, elements which are to be found in the distance contract and
methods for redress must be provided by the institution.
Compliance with the Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial
Services Directive is regulated by the Malta Financial Services
Authority (MFSA). Failure to comply with the provisions in the
Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial Services Directive may
result in an administrative fine of up to €93,000 on the
supplier, or the manager, secretary, director or other person
responsible for the supplier's activity.
Electronic Commerce (General) Regulations, implemented through
S.L. 426.02 in Malta, the financial institution shall only send
direct marketing by electronic means if certain conditions are met.
For example, no unsolicited communications may be sent unless the
client gives his prior consent, and the person/company sending the
advert must be identified. The Malta Communications Authority has
the power to impose fines of up to €23,293.73 for
non-compliance with the provisions in these regulations.
The use of comparative advertising in Malta must comply with
certain provisions found in the Commercial Code. For example,
comparative advertising must not be misleading, and must not take
unfair advantage of the reputation of a third party trademark. The
First Hall of the Civil Court in Malta may fine up to
€4,658.75 for any breach of the provisions relating to
comparative and misleading advertising.
Financial institution websites must ensure compliance with the
Data Protection Act and the EU Directive on the Protection of
Personal Data, and the Directive on Privacy and Electronic
Communications. Whenever personal data is collected from the
website, the basic privacy choices and policies must be displayed
in a prominent form on the website, specifically in the same page.
A link to the more detailed and proper explanation must be provided
The data controller or any other person authorised by him on his
behalf must provide a data subject from whom data relating to the
data subject himself are collected, with certain information, inter
alia, the identity and habitual residence or principal place of
business of the controller and of any other person authorised by
him on his behalf, and the purposes of the processing for which the
data is intended.
The gathering of "cookies" through a website also
falls within the broader realm of data protection regulation. A
cookie can be thought of as an internet user's identification
card. The information the cookie contains is set by the server and
it can be used by that server should the user visits the site
tracking technologies and how they can delete and control them.
In Malta, the Data Protection Commissioner may impose fines of
up to €23,300 for breach of any provisions within the Data
Protection Act, and €50 for each day the violation persists,
and/or to imprisonment of up to six months.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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