UK’s Article 50 trigger: impact on banks assessed

UK prime minister (PM) Theresa May has confirmed that she is ready to begin the process by which the country exits the European Union (EU), by triggering article 50 – the process by which the country begins a sovereign and independent nation again – not later than March 2017.

According to Daniel Döderlein, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Norwegian technology firm Auka and previously founder of financial services company mCash, UK banks have the most to lose and also potentially most to gain as a result of the article 50 trigger announcement at the weekend.

Döderlein’s comments note that current EU regulation the draft revision of the Payments Services Directive, aka PSD2, directs that all WU banks must open up then application programming interfaces (APIs) to licensed third parties is set to come into effect in January 2018.

“On the one hand, UK banks have over a year’s worth of PSD2 compliance to get ready for,” says Döderlein. “On the other, although Theresa May has stated that initially all EU laws will be converted to UK versions and then slowly adapted or removed, they may decide to lobby against being made to completely overhaul their infrastructure to meet rules which, come March 2019, will no longer technically apply to them.

“We know that English fintech has never been as strong as it is now and you can bet that these companies will be screaming and shouting for PSD2’s access to APIs to go ahead – in fact, their very future, for the most part, depends on it.

“As for banks operated from the current remainder of the EU: they’ll probably be hoping London banks decide to stay where they are and keep operating as they were – less competition for them.

“So, there are a few key parties – UK fintechs, UK based retail banks and EU competitor banks – all with different agendas. Whom the PM seeks to best please remains to be seen.

“Personally, I think banks and fintechs are screwed if they have to operate from the UK without access to the single market and poor taxation rules. Some banks have started to realise this and are making plans to set up office elsewhere.

“UK fintechs will also get hurt, and if they don’t get some single (PSD2) access, they’ll have to move to get their license inside the EU… And that may leave Level 39 [the London Docklands-based European technology accelerator] empty.”


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