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The Bafin’s blind spot

MAsterisk stars that shine particularly brightly in the starry sky have a short life. When they finally light up, they collapse and leave a black hole. A course that also fits the once brightest star in the German fintech sky, the payment service provider Wirecard. For a long time the company was considered a model financial start-up from Germany, now there is only blackness where there was once a good reputation. How it could be that Wirecard has managed to manipulate its balance sheets and income statement for years to come, analysts, politicians and regulators will be dealing with this for a long time to come. But another question comes to the fore: If even a Dax company like Wirecard succeeds in duping the authorities, what about regulating the many other young, aspiring financial start-ups?

Three years ago, the European Banking Authority (EBA) examined the regulation of the fintech market and at least came to the conclusion that 31 percent of all fintechs are neither subject to EU-wide nor national regulation – simply put, they are not regulated at all. Christina Bannier, Professor of Banking and Finance at the Justus Liebig University in Gie├čen, sees a problem with the control of fintechs in the fact that only a small part is “fin”, but the larger part is “tech” because the financial business is ultimately a subordinate one Role play. Sally Sfeir Tait, head of Reg-Techs Regulaition in London, says that many fintechs see themselves more as tech companies than as financial institutions – even if not all of them are the same. From Bannier’s point of view, however, the services that the fintechs offer are much more important. The difficulty in regulating young companies is therefore the question of who is actually responsible for them.

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