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FINRA establishes new office focused on fintech innovation

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Fri, 26 Apr 2019, 03:49 am UTC

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has set up an Office of Financial Innovation that will serve as a central point of coordination for issues related to significant financial innovations by member firms.

The new office will particularly focus on financial technology (fintech) use cases. It will collaborate with teams across FINRA to promote engagement with various stakeholders – industry, regulators, investors – on significant financial innovation by FINRA member firms.

The Office of Financial Innovation is an outgrowth of the Innovation Outreach Initiative under FINRA360. Established in June 2017, the Innovation Outreach Initiative aims to foster the dialogue with the securities industry and to better understand FinTech innovations and their impact on the industry.

FINRA said that the move will further enhance its ability to identify, understand and foster financial innovation in the markets in a way that strengthens investor protection and market integrity.

The new office will be headed by Haimera Workie, who currently serves as a Senior Director at FINRA and previously served as Deputy Associate Director in the Division of Trading and Markets at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

“Innovation continues to pose new opportunities and challenges for our member firms and the broader financial services industry, and it is essential that we as regulators keep pace,” said FINRA President and CEO Robert W. Cook. “Under Haime’s leadership, I am confident the Office of Financial Innovation will further FINRA’s long-standing commitment to understanding and addressing these issues through coordinated responses that foster both innovation and investor protection.”

Over the past few years, FINRA has been engaging with the industry through various symposiums, conferences, and roundtables focused on blockchain, RegTech, fintech, artificial intelligence (AI), and others. In 2017, it issued a report that discusses the use and implications of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in the securities industry.

The SEC and FINRA are going to hold the National Compliance Outreach Program for Broker-Dealers on June 27, 2019. The program will focus on insights from leadership, protecting retail investors, and regulatory “hot topics” such as digital assets and cybersecurity.

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