The effect of the pandemic has been a mixed bag for many involved in our markets. The increase in volatility has seen a boost to trading activities and RegTech has been busy innovating to help overcome the compliance issues of remote working. With banks splitting personnel between the office, disaster recovery sites and working from home, issues have arisen that will spur technological development and system renewals.
Regulations are having a profound effect on the trading landscape alongside a proliferation of Codes of Conduct. In the UK, there are three codes replacing the former NIPS code covering FX, Money Markets and Precious Metals.
We have been seeing a lot of discussion and interest concerning a blog I penned in March last year under the title of “Beware the Ides of March - A Drama of FX Swaps Reporting”.
This March, we had a Consultation from ESMA, nattily entitled, “MiFID II/MiFIR review report on the transparency regime for non-equity instruments and the trading obligation for derivatives”, which may equally be causing this issue to be re-visited.
In my last blog, looking at the rise of the challengers to the traditional banking industry, I stated “these ‘lightweight’ contestants in the banking market have harnessed new technologies and processes to deliver a better customer experience.” The blog elicited a comment from Kevin Gillespie when posted on LinkedIn – “You missed the entrance of mobile phone companies in payments ... mPesa in Kenya is 45% owned by Vodafone and operates payments in Romania on the same platform ... the new competitors may not even bother to get in the ring and still win the fight as they invent new ways of exchanging value”.
Since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) the banking industry, especially in the UK, has experienced significant growth with the advent of the “Digital Challenger”. These ‘lightweight’ contestants in the banking market have harnessed new technologies and processes to deliver a better customer experience.
We have seen many crises in the past, but this one is in many ways unique and I cannot recall a similar set of circumstances in my 43 years in markets. Financial crises have been global before but have originated within the financial system. Natural disasters have been localised as has dislocation due to terrorism and wars. This pandemic is unique as it is the first time we have seen such dislocation in so many countries at the same time. All financial centres are going through unprecedented emergency implementation of disaster planning activation.
It is unprecedented in Financial Markets (at least in my memory!) to have so many people working from home globally. We have previously seen localised examples such as on Wall Street after the tragic event of 9/11, but nothing on this global scale. As firms dust off the business continuity plans, some are hitting problems such as systems not allowing remote trading. This requires a tweaking of rule books and system settings. For those deploying a unified, modular platform, the task is somewhat easier when suddenly so many core staff are working from home as any system changes can be made once, and once only.
Buried in the depths of the Communiqué from the G20 Finance Ministers & Central Bank Governors Meeting on the 23rd of February was a stark call to arms regarding LIBOR transition. Building on the comments from National Competent Authorities (NCA) came a clear G20 statement:
It would have been one thing pondering on how to deal with a misdirection of Cupid’s bow recently on St. Valentine’s Day. But, instead, how do your customers react, when attempting to book a deal on-line, when a quoted price is rejected? It can often lead to confusion and leave a negative feeling if not properly understood as to why it occurred.
We saw during 2019 increased interest in various projects for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) launch as a recurring theme. CBDC is a digitised sovereign currency, created and issued by, and a liability of, the country’s monetary authority. As such they are viewed as legal tender which is a core difference to cryptocurrencies and stablecoins. Those who made it up the Davos slopes to the World Economic Forum (WEF), were met with ideas and discussions taking place on how CBDC could be a potential solution to multiple challenges, including financial inclusion and efficiencies in the global payment systems.
As is traditional this time of year, our good intentions of New Year resolutions fade to what we might expect to be dominant themes in 2020, and it has to be said that if certain plans are not yet well advanced you might want to get to it!
As we settled down to the first full working week of 2020, ESMA published the latest and final set of papers on the Securities Financing Transactions Regulation (SFTR) with guidelines on reporting structures. This was accompanied by the amended SFTR validation rules and a statement on Legal Entity Identifiers (LEI). The good news is that it now clarifies a number of provisions pertaining to SFTR, alongside some practical guidance.