581 FinTech Law and Policy

In 2016, few people had ever heard of Bitcoin or blockchain, initial coin offerings were non-existent, and U.S. financial regulatory agencies had yet to react to the emergence of non-bank financial services providers. The FinTech industry has changed dramatically since then: Bitcoin has captured the public imagination and spawned new derivatives products, you can now apply for a mortgage on your smartphone, initial coin offerings are now a viable alternative to venture capital funding, and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has proposed a new kind of bank charter specifically for FinTech firms.While many have focused on the technologies underpinning the FinTech revolution, less attention has been placed on how these technologies fit within the current financial regulatory framework. Understanding this framework is critical to the long-term success of any FinTech startup. While technology startups in other sectors may predicate their business on breaking rules and ignoring regulations, such a strategy is sure to fail if deployed by a FinTech firm. This is because the financial industry is heavily regulated by multiple state and federal agencies that often have overlapping authority. Being a successful FinTech firm requires more than just great technology; it also requires an understanding of the laws and regulations applicable to your business.

This course aims to provide you with that understanding. You will learn about the critical legal, regulatory, and policy issues associated with cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, online lending, new payments and wealth management technologies, and financial account aggregators. In addition, you will learn how regulatory agencies in the U.S. are continually adjusting to the emergence of new financial technologies and how one specific agency, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, has proposed a path for FinTech firms to become regulated banks. You will also learn the basics of how banks are regulated in the U.S.

If you are unfamiliar with how these new financial technologies work, fear not. We will begin each new course section with a high-level overview of the underlying technology.

Enrollment Prerequisite

Prior or current registration in a financial regulatory course (e.g., Big Bank Regulation; Securities Regulation). Please discuss with instructors if you think your prior course might be eligible

Course Areas of Practice
Course Type
Lecture
Learning Outcomes
Knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law
2017
Fall 2017
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

581.01 2
  • Final research paper (25+ pages in length)
  • Oral presentation
  • Class participation
Lee Reiners W 8:30-10:20 AM 2211 (Fite Room)

Financial services have been dramatically impacted by the deep technology revolution. Transactions, including payments and trading, have become almost instantaneous, validated by electronic signatures. Financial services are available anywhere, anytime, accessible from cards or devices in customer pockets.  As a result of all this "electronification," traditional bank "back rooms" and old-fashioned trading pits have disappeared, to be replaced by "clouds," iPhones, infrared beams, and so on.  Customer data, once safe in the hands of bankers, is now frequently compromised in massive electronic breaches.  We have no way of knowing whether state agencies or criminals now hold this information in their possession.  Seldom do financial firms attempt to deliver services on their own anymore; instead the end result is the result of behind-the-scenes collaboration among numerous market participants, the quality and capabilities of which varies widely.  It is a world of the future present, with which we are only starting to come to grips. The automation of financial services is also having an impact on regulators: the newly emerging concept of 'RegTech,' which focuses on how regulatory monitoring and assessment can themselves be automated, has been given a huge boost with the recent acquisition by IBM of The Promontory Interfinancial group, bringing the immense artificial intelligence power of "Watson" to bear on regulatory assessment and decision making

FinTech and the Law will review the origins of these developments.  We will seek to understand the architectures, principal legal and regulatory issues, and the dynamics of modern financial marketplaces as these are shaped by technology.  The seminar will help prepare students for a rapidly evolving framework in which successful business and legal practice must become technologically "bilingual."

The course is a seminar based on a compilation of readings provided during the course.  Enrollment is strictly limited to 12 students.

Pre/Co-requisites

Prior or current registration in a financial regulatory course (e.g., Big Bank Regulation; Securities Regulation). Please discuss with instructors if you think your prior course might be eligible

Enrollment Restrictions
None
Spring 2017
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

581.01 2
  • Final research paper (25+ pages in length)
  • Oral presentation
  • Class participation
Lawrence G. Baxter, Lee Reiners Tu 10:30-12:20 PM 4046

Financial services have been dramatically impacted by the deep technology revolution. Transactions, including payments and trading, have become almost instantaneous, validated by electronic signatures. Financial services are available anywhere, anytime, accessible from cards or devices in customer pockets.  As a result of all this "electronification," traditional bank "back rooms" and old-fashioned trading pits have disappeared, to be replaced by "clouds," iPhones, infrared beams, and so on.  Customer data, once safe in the hands of bankers, is now frequently compromised in massive electronic breaches.  We have no way of knowing whether state agencies or criminals now hold this information in their possession.  Seldom do financial firms attempt to deliver services on their own anymore; instead the end result is the result of behind-the-scenes collaboration among numerous market participants, the quality and capabilities of which varies widely.  It is a world of the future present, with which we are only starting to come to grips. The automation of financial services is also having an impact on regulators: the newly emerging concept of 'RegTech,' which focuses on how regulatory monitoring and assessment can themselves be automated, has been given a huge boost with the recent acquisition by IBM of The Promontory Interfinancial group, bringing the immense artificial intelligence power of "Watson" to bear on regulatory assessment and decision making

FinTech and the Law will review the origins of these developments.  We will seek to understand the architectures, principal legal and regulatory issues, and the dynamics of modern financial marketplaces as these are shaped by technology.  The seminar will help prepare students for a rapidly evolving framework in which successful business and legal practice must become technologically "bilingual."

The course is a seminar based on a compilation of readings provided during the course.  Enrollment is strictly limited to 12 students.

Pre/Co-requisites

Prior or current registration in a financial regulatory course (e.g., Big Bank Regulation; Securities Regulation). Please discuss with instructors if you think your prior course might be eligible

Enrollment Restrictions
None
2016
Spring 2016
Course Number Course Credits Evaluation Method Instructor Meeting Day/Times Room

581.01 2 Lawrence G. Baxter Tu 1:45-3:35 PM 4046

Financial services have been dramatically impacted by the deep technology revolution. Transactions, including payments and trading, have become almost instantaneous, validated by electronic signatures. Financial services are available anywhere, anytime, accessible from cards or devices in customer pockets.  As a result of all this "electronification," traditional bank "back rooms" and old-fashioned trading pits have disappeared, to be replaced by "clouds," iPhones, infrared beams, and so on.  Customer data, once safe in the hands of bankers, is now frequently compromised in massive electronic breaches.  We have no way of knowing whether state agencies or criminals now hold this information in their possession.  Seldom do financial firms attempt to deliver services on their own anymore; instead the end result is the result of behind-the-scenes collaboration among numerous market participants, the quality and capabilities of which varies widely.  It is a world of the future present, with which we are only starting to come to grips.

FinTech and the Law will review the origins of these developments.  We will seek to understand the architectures, principal legal and regulatory issues, and the dynamics of modern financial marketplaces as these are shaped by technology.  The seminar will help prepare students for a rapidly evolving framework in which successful business and legal practice must become technologically "bilingual."

The course is a seminar based on a compilation of readings provided during the course.  Enrollment is strictly limited to 12 students.

Syllabus: File 581.01.Spring2016-syllabus.docx

Pre/Co-requisites

Students must have completed either Big Banking Regulation or Securities Regulation as a prerequisite.  Each student will be required to undertake a substantial research assignment, prepare a detailed and up-to-date reading list of the results of the research, and write a memo (30 pages) for oral presentation to the class at the appropriate time.  JD writing credit will be available to the first five students who present research proposals, approved by the instructor, complete paper drafts by Wednesday March 9 for grading and comments, and submit their final drafts in response to comments by last day of classes (when all papers will be due).

Enrollment Restrictions
None

*Please note that this information is for planning purposes only, and should not be relied upon for the schedule for a given semester. Faculty leaves and sabbaticals, as well as other curriculum considerations, will sometimes affect when a course may be offered.