CBI, Iran Fintech Association Discuss Regulatory Framework

Financial tribune- The Central Bank of Iran has for the first time sought the help of Iran Fintech Association (FintechA) to make its final decision about the long overdue task of regulating fintech companies and startups.

The CBI’s Office for Payment Systems last week hosted representatives from the association, Shaparak Company–the supervisory body of Iran payment system, and payment service provider companies to discuss plans for regulating fintechs and managing the operation of payment applications, a press release by FintechA announced.

The fintech framework was expected to be finalized in May, but the process has been delayed due to unknown reasons. However, as the association told Financial Tribune, CBI is expected to finalize fintech regulations in the coming weeks.

Pointing to problems caused by the absence of an independent regulatory body, FintechA representatives have called on the central bank to start monitoring the fintech industry.

FintechA also announced its readiness to help remove the authorities’ concerns regarding illegal transactions made in payment applications by employing more efficient methods.

Iran Center for E-Commerce Development, the e-commerce industry’s top body, had announced that it was to regulate the operation of unofficial payment tools, referred to as aggregators, after profiling owners and users (receivers). The preliminary plan requires users to provide a phone number to become eligible for using payment services.

FintechA favors using a mobile number and Shaba–a 24-digit number that identifies an account in Iran’s banking system for identification of users.

The association has also developed a “black list system” that can be used by other organizations.

In the proposed model, transactions through payment applications will be processed by bank switches. The money will be kept in an escrow account that can be only be accessed by Shaparak.

Central bankers were also ready to directly connect payment applications to Shaparak’s switch, but the offer was not welcomed by participants who believe this would put extra pressure on Shaparak.

CBI has been working on a mechanism for licensing fintech companies by launching a new regulatory body. The measure was turned down by fintechs as the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2017-22) calls for less focus on licensing as a supervisory tool to prevent corruption.

The central bank also seems unlikely to consider issuing licenses for fintech operations and payment applications.

The central bank, instead, will develop a rulebook that defines the framework of legal operation for innovative financial services.

Last October, CBI announced that it would allow fintech firms to continue to operate as long as they are not involved in money creation, currency exchange, offering payment tools (like cards) and  attracting deposits.

It was also announced that fintechs and those who acquire money through their services are not required to obtain a license from the E-Commerce Development Center.

Inviting fintechs to participate in the regulation process was welcomed, as fintechs hope the final results will help boost the sector.

The move comes only a few months after the establishment of the association. Nasser Hakimi, CBI’s former head of payment systems office, had proposed that fintech firms create a forum to identify challenges, ask key questions and contact the regulator for solutions.

Date : Sunday 13 August 2017 / Subject : Banking System News / Source : Financial Tribune