The Swiss Parliament adopted the Financial Institutions Act (FinSA) and the Financial Services Act (FinIA) on 15 June 2018. In the course of this fundamental legislative project, it also implemented a previously announced initiative that aims to benefit innovative financial businesses: It introduced the legal basis for a new regulatory licence type, commonly referred to as 'fintech licence' or 'banking licence light' in a new article 1b of the Federal Banking Act (BankA). On 30 November 2018, following a consultation period, the Federal Council adopted a number of amendments to the Federal Banking Ordinance (BankO), specifying the requirements that will apply to applicants and holders of a fintech licence and thereby defining the statutory framework for the new licence type in more detail.1 The new provisions of the BankA and the BankO will enter into force on 1 January 2019, opening up new and more flexible business opportunities for fintech operators such as crowdfunding platforms and electronic payment services providers.
New fintech licence type
The introduction of the fintech licence type by way of the new article 1b BankA completes the three-pillar fintech programme of the Swiss Federal Council announced on 2 November 2016.2 The two previously implemented pillars consist of (i) the extension of the maximum holding period of third party monies in settlement accounts to 60 days and (ii) the introduction of a regulatory 'sandbox' creating an unregulated regime for small innovative projects (both in force since 1 August 2017).
The fintech licence sits squarely between the traditional banking licence and the unregulated innovation sandbox. Conceptually, the new licence type is not designed specific for a particular business activity or model. Quite to the contrary, it aims to create an adequate, technology-neutral regulatory framework for any business that needs to accept deposits from the public without engaging in typical commercial banking activities. This concept differentiates the Swiss fintech licence from other licence types at a similar level in jurisdictions outside of Switzerland, e.g. payment service provider or e-money institution licences in EU member states. That said, the Swiss legislator took note of these foreign licence types and designed the Swiss solution with the objective of not imposing comparatively stricter licence requirements.
To view the full article please click here.
1 See the media release of the Federal Council of 30 November 2018, available under: https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/media-releases.msg-id-73186.html.
2 See the media release of the Federal Council of 2 November 2016, available under: https://www.admin.ch/gov/en/start/documentation/media-releases.msg-id-64356.html.
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.