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InnovationHub one year - Thanks for all your questions!

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Olaf Sleijpen

Just over a year ago, the AFM and DNB jointly set up the InnovationHub. Time, therefore, to take stock.

But first of all, why was it again we started it in the first place? FinTech, RegTech, InsurTech... there is plenty of innovation in the financial sector, in many fields. We applaud such developments. Innovation generates more diversity in the sector, which is good for the consumer as well of course. However, innovation doesn't always neatly fit into existing rules and regulations. So what do you do as a supervisory authority in such cases? And what if you are a market operator? Say you have a company wanting to offer a new innovative financial service, but it is unclear how this service should actually be defined. Which license do you need then? And should you go to DNB or the AFM? Which supervisor deals with this service? Since last year, it has been possible to ask such questions at the Hub.

Since the start, on 9 June 2016, we received no less than 216 questions, from many different sectors. Banks, insurers, and in particular payment institutions know where to find us.

And market operators have done so in great numbers. Since the start, on 9 June 2016, we received no less than 216 questions, from many different sectors. Banks, insurers, and in particular payment institutions know where to find us. But also entrepreneurs with entirely new initiatives find their way to the InnovationHub and ask us to think along right from the drawing board of the service they are planning to launch. Though most of the questions now originate from payment service providers, there is also some innovation in the more traditional sectors. It is mostly start-ups and smaller enterprises that find their way to the Hub. Larger financial institutions on the whole use the contacts they already have with the supervisory authorities and apparently feel less of a need to consult the InnovationHub. But for sure, the Hub is also there for established parties. And they can ask questions outside the regular supervisory relations.

Naturally, we hope that all parties that asked us questions are satisfied with the answers received. We will soon hold a survey to learn about your experiences. As InnovationHub, we want to keep developing ourselves and meet your need for information.

But besides giving market operators the information they need, I would like to stress here that we have also learned a lot ourselves.

In my view, the strength of the InnovationHub is that it works both ways. On the one hand we help institutions find their way in the world of rules and regulations, on the other, institutions help us gain better insight into the latest developments in the sector. The questions we receive allow us to anticipate what is coming. To give you an example: We notice there is quite a bit of uncertainty about the European rules and regulations in the wake of PSD2. Questions from the market give us a good idea of the challenges parties encounter. They allow us to get you the right information quickly, even before the actual rules and regulations come into effect.

Another thing that one year of InnovationHub has taught us is that innovations in the market force us to act not just according to the law, but also in the spirit of the law. The Hub shows us which rules and regulations cause unnecessary impediments. We have to keep asking ourselves the question: "What was the original purpose of these rules?" Do they still fit the bill? And if not, what do we do about it? Is there room for a customised approach in applying specific rules? Or what can we do to make sure the rules are being amended?

216 questions and answers have hopefully contributed to the smooth introduction of innovations in the financial sector and will continue to do so in the future. The questions definitely made our supervision more committed and alert. So, many thanks for all your questions!

The AFM is committed to promoting fair and transparent financial markets.

As an independent market conduct authority, we contribute to a sustainable financial system and prosperity in the Netherlands.

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