In July, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – the body that regulates loan-based and investment-based crowdfunding in the UK – launched a ‘call for input’ on the current rules applied to crowdfunding in the UK.
The prospect of video gamers becoming paid professionals, and people placing bets on the outcome of contests, would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago.
The concept of energy storage is not new. However, technology advancements and the increased sense of urgency in relation to decarbonisation have gradually drawn attention to the possibilities of storage.
Robots are rapidly gaining public visibility as their development accelerates in conjunction with recent innovations in the domains of artificial intelligence, machine learning, machine-to-machine and machine-to-human interaction.
Events have moved very quickly over the weekend, and the timeline for events post the UK referendum on the EU is becoming clearer, if not yet the future scope of UK-EU relations or the eventual implications for politics, economy and business.
The European Commission will soon publish a set of best practice guidelines for the regulation of the sharing economy. The purpose is to support the growth of this emerging sector and also to address any regulatory imbalances that have emerged across Europe in the context of the single market. The guidance will also outline how existing EU regulations should be applied to the sharing economy and consider international best practice. While there are many silos to the sharing economy that will need separate investigation, this article focuses on a key, growing sector – short-term accommodation rentals – and identifies a set of principles that the Commission should consider including in its guidelines.
In most parts of the world, the Millennial Generation has more personal and economic freedom than any which preceded it, but is also facing a squeeze on wealth and assets not experienced in the last 70 years. The UK Government’s Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission considers that social mobility is in danger of going into reverse in some areas of the UK, and that inequality of assets between generations could worsen matters.
Boom and Bust
The EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) has been up and down a rollercoaster over the last decade. Launched with considerable optimism in 2005 as one of the European Union’s prime policy instruments for tackling climate change by placing a price on greenhouse gas emissions, it has since gone through what can be most appropriately termed a “boom and bust” cycle.
At the end of Phase I in 2007, the price of an EUA effectively hit zero, as there was no provision to carry Phase I EUAs into the second phase.
The world of financial services is changing fast. The implications of blockchain technology or decentralised ledgers may not yet be a hot kitchen table topic but has the potential to utterly change the worlds of banking, insurance, asset management, and access to finance. In short, it could transform the economy around us. Though the US remains the largest base for investment in FinTech companies developing peer to peer finance and smart payment mechanisms with over $12bn investment in FinTech startups in 2015, more than doubling year on year growth, the UK is the fastest growing global market. With over £3.5bn annual investment in the sector in the UK, it is Europe’s FinTech leader over competition from Paris and Frankfurt.
The ways and means in which regulation is developed and implemented in the internet age have changed. Regulation across the globe can only follow the rapid expansion of new innovation and business models in, for example, online short-term rentals or car-sharing platforms. There is a continuing trend towards companies developing an idea and going to the market with it fast, with the result that regulation is so far behind it must adapt to the new business environment.
According to recent research by management consultancy A.T. Kearney, the global market for 3D printing is set to grow from $4.5 billion today to $17.2 billion by 2020. With this rapid growth will come added scrutiny from policy makers and regulators. To support its long term growth, and for the industry to fulfil its remarkable potential, a supportive regulatory and policy framework will be critical. To help build this framework, and to put in place policies that will stimulate industry growth and accelerate the uptake of 3D printing technology across the economy, it will be imperative for industry associations to play their part and to engage with key policy makers and regulators.
Like many growing sectors in the sharing and on-demand economy, meal-sharing platforms are changing how individuals interact and consume. Innovative businesses are providing alternative catering services, often with a community or social focus, that disrupt the traditional choice between restaurants, takeaways and home-cooking.
On a day when the entire financial services industry in the UK and in Continental Europe dissected the long-awaited – albeit leaked – European Commission Action Plan on Capital Markets Union, a few eyebrows were raised about some potential implications for the fintech community. Regulators at national and supranational level are still pondering over an optimal regulatory framework to promote the fintech industry whilst at the same time ensuring adequate consumer protection; but not necessarily on a like-for-like basis with the established providers, who are already beginning to use the ‘level playing field’ argument to challenge the disruptors.
In our previous analysis piece on the topic of online dating we explored the importance of industry regulation, as market actors continue to innovate and find new ways of marketing and delivering their services to users. New technology, in the form of smartphones, tablets, or wearable tech devices, has provided online dating companies with new tools to deliver their services and reach out to new customers.
In February of this year, the European Commission unveiled its Green Paper for ‘Building a Capital Markets Union’. Over the coming five years it will be the flagship project for the Directorate General responsible for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA). The Green Paper clearly states that the European Commission’s objective is to stimulate economic growth, largely through simpler access to capital markets, which will diversify the sources of SME financing and in turn support their growth. So what does the Capital Markets Union (CMU) mean for new innovative and a high growth companies? How does the CMU plan address their many concerns whilst also building on their many achievements?
The technology sector has rightly become a source of optimism for all UK politicians in recent years. Rapid growth, job creation and sustained investment have become the norm. Recently published statistics from Tech City UK in its Tech Nation report indicate that digital job growth in the UK will outperform all other occupation categories by 2020. In addition, 1.46 million people - 7.5% of the entire UK workforce - are already employed in the digital industries. Importantly, the report found that 74% of digital companies in the UK operate outside of London, with significant clusters of activity in areas such as Greater Manchester, Brighton and Hove, Belfast and South Wales. The supply side is clearly getting stronger with the presence of not just a thriving tech start-up scene, but also a significant number of established and global tech players operating, and investing, across the UK. On the flip side, the demand side is becoming more demanding. Businesses and consumers increasingly expect digital, and not analogue, to be the default. This, of course, is both a great challenge and opportunity for the sector.
If last autumn was the settling-in period, the New Year is the time for the new European Commission to get moving on its priorities. The European Parliament elected last May has now bedded in, the Committees have established a work programme, and the parliamentarians will be keen to start making an impact on policy-making and regulatory measures. The next few months are therefore likely to see a lot of activity. As energy policy - and its multiple linkages with the wider European economy - has already been highlighted by Juncker and his senior lieutenants as one of the most important issues on the agenda, Commission officials in DG Clima and DG Energy are going to be busy, as will the ENVI (Environment) and ITRE (Industry, Trade and Energy) Committees in the Parliament. This piece analyses the key themes and what may merge in terms of concrete policy or legislative proposals.
In our recent analysis piece about the future regulation of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), we provided some insight into the main EU institutions and agencies involved in the creation of harmonised rules across Europe. Since then, the 2016 deadline the European Commission had initially set for new regulations to be approved has been removed, and not replaced.
In Lima, at the beginning of this week, after two weeks of the usual tortuous negotiations, the 196 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) emerged with the Lima Call for Climate Action. This sets out the main priority issues for the parties in relation to the landmark COP 21 in Paris in December 2015 - the deadline for an international agreement on climate change - and attaches a 39-page document (a “non-paper”) containing various options for different elements of a draft negotiating text.
This note analyses Lima’s outcomes and the prospects for an international climate agreement in Paris 12 months away.
On 1 December representatives of the 196 parties (member countries) to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will gather in Lima for the annual Conference of the Parties (COP) international meeting. The climate negotiations have in recent years - especially since the conspicuous failure of parties at Copenhagen in 2009 to agree an international treaty - tended to be regarded as a non-event, an interminable discussion from which nothing material ever emerges. Will Lima, COP 20, be any different?