As regulatory thinking evolves, firms must ensure that any current or planned use of AI complies with regulatory expectations.

By Fiona M. Maclean, Becky Critchley, Gabriel Lakeman, Gary Whitehead, and Charlotte Collins

As financial services firms digest FS2/23, the joint Feedback Statement on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning issued by the FCA, Bank of England, and PRA (the regulators), and the UK government hosts the AI Safety Summit, we take stock of the government and the regulators’ thinking on AI to date, discuss what compliance considerations firms should be taking into account now, and look at what is coming next.

The FCA recently highlighted that we are reaching a tipping point whereby the UK government and sectoral regulators need to decide how to regulate and oversee the use of AI. Financial services firms will need to track developments closely to understand the impact they may have. However, the regulators have already set out how numerous areas of existing regulation are relevant to firms’ use of AI, so firms also need to ensure that any current use of AI is compliant with the existing regulatory framework.

A new publication from the UK’s financial regulator signals to firms that they should take steps to manage risks in the use of AI.

By Stuart Davis, Fiona M. Maclean, Gabriel Lakeman, and Imaan Nazir

The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published its latest board minutes highlighting its increasing focus on artificial intelligence (AI), in which it “raised the question of how one could ‘foresee harm’ (under the new Consumer Duty), and also give customers appropriate disclosure, in the context of the operation of AI”. This publication indicates that AI continues to be a key area of attention within the FCA. It also demonstrates that the FCA believes its existing powers and rules already impose substantive requirements on regulated firms considering deploying AI in their services.

Regulator clarifies that existing FCA rules will continue to apply but will also reflect the evolving landscape of financial promotions on social media.

By Nicola Higgs, Stuart Davis, Fiona Maclean, Gabriel Lakeman, and Gary Whitehead

On 17 July 2023, the FCA published a guidance consultation (GC23/2) relating to financial promotions on social media.

Acknowledging that social media is “being used by many consumer as a go-to source of information”, the FCA is updating its existing guidance on social media and customer communications to take into account the changing landscape of social media. The existing guidance, FG15/4: Social Media and Customer Communications, will be retired once the new guidance is finalised.

A consultation that will remain open until 11 April 2023 offers further clarity on the proposals to regulate buy-now-pay-later products.

By Rob Moulton, Becky Critchley, Ella McGinn, and Dianne Bell

On 14 February 2023, HM Treasury published its consultation and accompanying draft legislation on the regulation of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) lending. The consultation follows the proposals in HM Treasury’s prior publications released in October 2021 and June 2022, since the government announced its intention to bring currently unregulated

HM Treasury has confirmed that it will bring certain unregulated cryptoassets within scope of the financial promotions regime.

By Stuart Davis, Rob Moulton, and Charlotte Collins

On 18 January 2022, the UK government confirmed its intention to bring the promotion of certain cryptoassets into scope of regulation. HM Treasury has been considering for some time whether, and if so how, to bring unregulated cryptoassets within the regulatory perimeter, having originally consulted on these proposals in 2020.

An FCA report evaluates the chequered implementation of technology change and identifies risks and best practices to help firms better navigate this change.

By Andrew C. Moyle, Alain Traill, and Jagveen S. Tyndall

Of the nearly 1,000 “material incidents” reported to the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2019, 17% were caused by change-related activity. It was against this backdrop that, on 5 February 2021, the FCA set out the findings of its review entitled Implementing Technology Change regarding the execution of technology change within the financial services sector (the Report). While the Report focuses on the UK, its findings apply equally to financial services organisations implementing technology change across all geographies.

The additional temporary guidance aims to strengthen the arrangements for safeguarding customers’ funds and firms’ prudential risk management in light of the impact of COVID-19.

By Stuart Davis, Brett Carr, and Anna Lewis-Martinez

On 9 July 2020, the FCA published its finalised guidance on safeguarding customers’ funds during the COVID-19 crisis. The finalised guidance applies to payment and e-money firms.

The FCA’s guidance for firms on safeguarding and managing prudential risk is already available in the FCA’s payment services approach document (Approach Document). However, in light of the exceptional circumstances of COVID-19 on firms’ business models, the FCA has provided additional temporary guidance to strengthen firms’ prudential risk management and arrangements for safeguarding customers’ funds in this period of economic stress.

HM Treasury is planning significant changes to the financial promotion regime, including expanding its scope to certain cryptoassets, and amending the approval process for promotions of unauthorised firms.

By Stuart Davis, Sam Maxson, and Anna Lewis-Martinez

On 20 July 2020, HM Treasury published two consultation papers on a regulatory framework for approval of financial promotions and cryptoasset promotions. The consultations propose to establish a regulatory “gateway” that a firm must pass through before it is able to approve the financial promotions of unauthorised firms, and to bring certain types of cryptoassets into the scope of financial promotions regulations.

By Rob Moulton and Anna Lewis-Martinez

On 30 April 2020, the FCA released a statement announcing a six-month extension to the deadline for firms’ implementation of strong customer authentication (SCA) for e-commerce under the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (PSRs 2017). The FCA states that the extension is due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is set to minimise potential disruption to consumers and merchants.

The new deadline for implementation is 14 September 2021. This replaces the original 14 March 2021 deadline.