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国际资讯监管与政策

缺乏监管的金融科技或将引发下一次市场崩溃

国际资讯监管与政策

缺乏监管的金融科技或将引发下一次市场崩溃

经济大衰退至今已有十年,美国经济却又开始了新一轮繁荣发展。

但有部分行业专家认为,Biz2Credit、Fora Financial、Kabbage、LendingClub、Lendup和OnDeck Capital, Inc.等缺乏监管的金融科技公司或将引发下一次市场崩溃。政府为什么还没有采取行动?因为对新行业监管负责机构的争论尚未结束,尚未确定该由州政府还是联邦政府负责。

七月底,通货审计官办公室(后文简称OCC)宣布接受金融科技公司的全国银行执照申请。与此同时,各州也在积极吸引金融科技公司来申请执照,就在上周,美国国家银行监事协会表示将就OCC向金融科技公司签发全国银行执照的权限提起诉讼。

目前,只有Varo Money一家金融科技公司通过初步批准,可以正式申请OCC执照。

同时,行业专家正全力推动监管落实。来自Federal Financial Analytics的Karen Petrou最近发表了一篇研究论文,认为缺乏监管的金融科技可能会导致又一次大规模市场崩溃。

Petrou写道:

"鉴于金融科技在复原力、复苏、利益冲突、垄断势力和其他各方面几乎处于完全无监管状态,这个不断变化的领域具备与引发上次经济衰退完全一样的缺陷,更令人担忧的是,还有新缺陷。最近一篇论文指出,采用金融科技公司的外壳,将金融风险虚拟化,并不会改变实际风险的根本性质。"

全国联邦保险信用合作社协会(NAFCU)的代表最近在参议院银行业委员会面前就金融科技和监管的状况发表演说,认为金融科技公司应采用与银行相同的监管制度,以防出现不法行为、不公平竞争和经济危害。

在给委员会主席参议员Michael Crapo(爱达荷州共和党)和参议员Sherrod Brown(俄亥俄州民主党)的一封信中,NAFCU的立法事务副主席Brad Thaler说道:

"金融科技会产生与消费者金融数据相关的数据安全问题。例如,金融科技公司允许消费者将多个账户的控制权整合到单个平台上,这就增加了欺诈的风险,同时也不受《金融服务现代化法案》对信用社施加的网络安全检查的约束。"

Thaler提到了金融科技公司用来计算小公司业主和独立借出人的利率的算法缺乏透明度。众议员Emanuel Cleaver(密苏里州民主党)的调查显示,许多金融科技公司最大的客户群体为低收入借款人和有色人种。

Cleaver发现,金融公司通常不会透露自己在计算新的借款人利率时考虑了哪些因素,甚至不会透露自己进行计算的时间,它们选用的因素非常值得怀疑。例如,有些公司会检查社交媒体个人资料。

Petrou表示,这种"不透明性"和问责制的缺乏增加了消费者面临的风险。

她写道:"银行也需要仔细记录,然后验证自己的担保和产品供应程序。没有消费者金融保护局来维护威信,也没有适用于金融科技服务的检查或记录要求,这就导致难以对系统进行评估,无法确定问题结果是由市场因素还是不法行为和不当操作造成。"

此外,她表示,"不透明性还会保护交易策略、投资模式和交易处理基础架构,所采用的方法虽然提高了效率,但也增加了利益冲突、复原力、市场关联和结构复原力的问题。"

虽然各州和联邦政府声称针对监管问题展开讨论,但监管争斗背后真正的推动因素是执照收入:如果金融科技公司选择向OCC申请执照,那各州将会损失一大新收入来源。

行业专家认为如果不能很快解决金融科技监管问题,监管争斗可能会造成严重的后果。Petrou认为金融科技公司和垄断之间关系密切,而市场危机也和垄断与寡头密切相关,因此金融科技监管刻不容缓。

Thaler告诉参议院银行业委员会,"金融服务市场上金融科技的兴起带来了新机遇。但是,由于实体兴起的环境缺乏监管或监管力度不够,同时也带来了新的威胁和挑战。"

Ten years after the start of the Great Recession, the U.S. economy is currently booming. But some industry experts fear that, without regulation, financial technology (fintech) companies like Biz2Credit, Fora Financial, Kabbage, LendingClub, Lendup and OnDeck Capital, Inc. could bring about the next market crash.   So why aren’t governments acting? Because of an ongoing debate over who should oversee this new industry– states, or the federal government?

At the end of July, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced it would accept applications from fintech companies seeking a national bank charter.  At the same time,  states are wooing fintech companies to charter with them instead, and just last week the Conference of State Bank Supervisors said it intends to sue the OCC over its authority to issue national bank charters to fintech companies.

So far, only one fintech company — Varo Money — has been preliminarily approved to formally apply for an OCC charter.

Meanwhile, industry experts are urgently pushing for regulation. According to one recent research paper by Karen Petrou of Federal Financial Analytics, unregulated fintech could precipitate another major market crash.

Petrou wrote, “Given that (fintech) is almost entirely unregulated with regard to resilience, recovery, conflicts of interest, monopoly power, and pretty much everything else, this changing landscape poses significant risk from exactly the same vulnerabilities that sparked the last debacle and, even more worrisome, from new ones. As a recent paper observes, virtualizing financial risk by housing it in fintech companies does not change the fundamental nature of actual risk.”

Representatives of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) recently testified before the Senate Banking Committee on the state of fintech and regulation, arguing that fintech companies should be subject to the same regulations as banks in order to prevent malpractice, unfair competition and economic hazards.

In a letter to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the NAFCU’s Vice President of Legislative Affairs Brad Thaler said, “The use of fintech can create data security concerns with consumer financial data. For example, a fintech company that permits consumers to consolidate control over multiple accounts on a single platform elevates the risk of fraud and may not be subject to cybersecurity examination in the same way credit unions are under the Gramm-Beach-Bliley Act.”

Thaler is referring to the lack of transparency regarding the algorithms fintech companies use to calculate interest rates for small business owners and individual lenders. Many of fintech’s biggest customers are low-income borrowers and people of color, per research conducted by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)

Cleaver discovered fintech companies often don’t disclose what factors they take into account when calculating a new borrower’s interest rate, and even when they do, which factors they choose to use are highly questionable. Some examine social media profiles, for example.

This “opacity” and lack of accountability raises risks for consumers, Petrou said.

“Banks are also required to keep careful documentation on and then to validate their underwriting and product-offering procedures,” she wrote. “Absent any effort by the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection to assert authority, no such examination or documentation requirements apply to fintech services, making it difficult to evaluate systems to determine if problematic outcomes are the result of market factors or illegal and improper actions.”

Furthermore, she said, “Opacity may also protect trading strategies, investment models, and transaction-processing infrastructure in ways that add efficiency but also pose conflict-of-interest, resilience, market-correlation, and structural resilience problems.”

While state and federal governments claim the debate is over regulatory issues, the real driver for the regulatory fight is over the charter revenue: states would lose out on a significantly large new source of revenue if fintech companies opt to charter with the OCC instead of the states.

Industry experts fear the fight may have serious consequences if the issue of fintech regulation isn’t addressed soon. Petrou fears the strong connection between tech companies and monopolies, as well as the connection between market crisis and monopolies and oligopolies means fintech regulation should not be postponed.

“The emergence of fintech in the financial services marketplace presents new opportunities,” Thaler told the Senate Banking Committee. “However, it can also present new threats and challenges as entities emerge in an environment that can be unregulated or underregulated.”


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