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The Board of the BCRA Formalized the Financial Innovation Work Team

Thursday, February 07, 2019. The Board decided to formalize the Financial Innovation Work Team (MIF, for its acronym in Spanish) to create a favorable environment for dialog between public and private parties in order to draft proposals regarding means of payment, credit and savings, as well as technology applied to financial services.

The Work Team suggests getting into contact with different actors of the financial industry that participate in the digital business transformation focused on the idea that there should be a balance between the soundness of the financial system and the benefit that may be derived from innovation.

In this framework, there are technology-based proposals and undertakings for the provision of financial services presented both by institutions directly regulated by the BCRA, and by other organizations. This brings about more competition, fosters efficiency, involves lower costs and results in financial inclusion—the ultimate goal. The BCRA seeks to make existing and forthcoming services first rate in order to improve their access and use.

Since the beginning, the MIF is made up of representatives of financial institutions, public-sector organizations/regulators, ATM networks, FinTech companies, consulting firms, payments acquirers and processors, stock market and clearing houses, among others.

The MIF works with specialized groups that deal with particular topics according to the participants and regulator’s interests. At present, these groups are: Payment Means and Infrastructure, Blockchain Solutions, Cross Systems and Technologies, and Alternative Credit and Saving Channels.

These groups meet regularly to exchange opinions about the topics proposed within an environment of coordinated dialog between the regulator and the financial industry. The participants and the BCRA choose, by common consent, the groups’ coordinators (one per group and changing every year), who commit themselves to comply with the technical documents that should be submitted to the BCRA.

To date, and on the basis of the technical documents produced by the teams, we can identify many innovative initiatives that have a positive impact on financial users. For instance, interoperability between electronic wallets and bank accounts; improvements in the practicality and usability of the Instant Debit (DEBIN) means of payment; and regulation of payments with quick response code (QR codes).

Other initiatives involved the interaction between clients and financial institutions through expeditious exchanges of credentials (Open Authorization); digital onboarding to the financial system; action plans for setting in motion Open Banking; and a channel to test the Digital Identity System (SID) of the Office of Vital Statistics (ReNaPer) for electronic signatures.

Regarding credit and savings, the Debtors' Database of the Financial System (CENDEU) exhibited more and better information, and alternative savings strategies were developed for the sectors with limited financial inclusion.

As for blockchain solutions, a "Know Your Customer” (KYC) platform was created to identify customers and check documentation. The MIF falls under the scope of the Financial Regulations Deputy General Management Office and the Means of Payment Deputy General Management Office of the BCRA and is coordinated by members of the staff from the Regulatory Issuance Management Office, Financial Development Management Office, and Payment Systems Management Office.

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