On 26 February 2019, the European Commission published the speech given by Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis (VD) at the 3rd Annual Afore Fintech Conference.

VD begins his speech by covering the Commission’s Fintech Action Plan. Last year the Commission asked the European Supervisory Authorities to report on regulatory sandboxes and innovation hubs in Member States. VD states that this work is now ready, and that the results are encouraging. Member States have opened 21 innovation hubs and 5 regulatory sandboxes. In addition, on 2 April 2019, a European Network of Innovation Facilitators will be launched allowing supervisors to learn from each other through continuous information sharing.

VD then focuses on the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and cross-border instant payments. VD states that Member States have authorised around 200 legal entities for providing account information services and payment initiation services. At the same time, more and more banks want to provide these services themselves, or in partnership with Fintechs. VD also reminds his audience that as of 14 September 2019, banks will have to make available an interface for fully secured communication with authorised third-party providers. VD adds that every effort will be made to ensure that well-functioning communication interfaces are ready and tested in time for this deadline.

In terms of instant payments VD notes that the Commission has already put in place EU-level regulation, and supported infrastructure to allow pan-European payment solutions to emerge. VD states that it’s now for the market to develop these solutions and speed is of the essence. VD advises that the Commission is “reflecting on whether a stronger regulatory push would be needed to speed up this process.” This year’s review of the Payments Account Directive could, according to VD, be an opportunity to pursue “concrete actions”.