The Central Bank must speed up the issuing of e-money licenses to digital banks to avoid any negative impact on the sector, according to Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne.
Senator Byrne, Fine Gael Seanad spokesperson on Finance, said: “The Programme for Government committed to encouraging competition in our banking sector and to developing the Fintech sector as a source of employment and competition.
“Ireland is a globally-recognised centre for specialist international financial services, with many companies using emerging technologies establishing themselves here in recent years.
“Around one in five adults use FinTech companies for banking/payments at least occasionally. Technology is changing the way banking services are provided to customers.
“Many of the world’s leading companies have a significant presence in Ireland, with activity spread right across the sector including Online Payments; Processing, Digital Banking, Cross Border Payments, Payment Gateways, Insurtech, Regtech and Blockchain.
“It is estimated that the Fintech industry employs around 7,000 people here, with around 52,800 people employed in the international financial services sector at the end of 2021.
“However, concerns have been raised about the amount of time it is taking the Central Bank to grant authorisation to fintech firms operating here through the issuing of an e-money licence.
“It has been reported that some Fintech firms have opted not to accept an e-money licence from the Irish regulator, while another firm has withdrawn its application.
“Commentators have suggested that the amount of time it is taking authorisations to be processed in a fair and timely manner is worrying applicants and others coming forward. We don’t want a situation where a company opts to locate elsewhere if the regulatory process takes longer than expected, which could cost jobs here.
“Fintech was identified as a priority in the Ireland for Finance Action Plan 2022 , which was published earlier this year. A mid-term review of the strategy is currently being undertaken by the Department of Finance.
“I would hope the issue of authorisations could be examined as part of this process and that as well as engaging with the Department, the Central Bank would look to review its procedures so as to avoid unnecessary delays being experienced by companies.
“In the meantime, the Central Bank should also consider providing guidance to applicants to ensure they have all the material required included in their initial submissions, as opposed to providing additional material which could slow up the process further down the line.”