Juristconsult Chambers is organising the first FinTech Conference on the legal challenges and opportunities of FinTech, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies on the 10th October 2017 at the Hennessy Park Hotel, Ebene. We have interviewed its Chairperson, Marc Hein, SC, ahead of the Conference
FinTech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency… What exactly are they and why all the buzz about them?
Well, to some this may sound like a complicated subject but simply put, FinTech is where finance meets technology. FinTech is the new technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services.
FinTech is an important topic for businesses globally as it is disrupting and changing the global financial landscape. It is thus clear, in this age of globalisation, that FinTech will ultimately transform and revolutionize the Mauritian financial landscape.
Blockchain is the revolutionary technology that underpinned the now famous cryptocurrency ‘Bitcoin’. Blockchain has become one of the most significant recent technological developments. One can think of Blockchain as a ledger recording transactions. Blockchain is different from the old fashioned physical ledger that we know of. It is a distributed ledger which resides on each participant’s electronic device.
Bitcoin, as mentioned earlier, is a cryptocurrency. It is a digital currency. Bitcoin was created in 2007 by a programmer under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. This digital currency promotes the notion of freedom, that is providing users control over their transactions unlike banks which impose various obligations and conditions.
You made mention earlier of an evident transformation and revolution of the Mauritian financial landscape. How is this going to happen?
This is already happening as we speak. Following the last Budget Speech, the Prime Minister highlighted that “Mauritius must harness the benefits of the fintech revolution the more so that there is good potential for making of Mauritius a Fintech hub for Africa”. Some months later, we saw the government’s willingness to move by enacting the Economic Development Board Act 2017 which created the Economic Development Board (EDB). One of the key responsibilities of the Board is to make Mauritius a FinTech hub. The goal behind that is to position Mauritius as an ideal platform in the FinTech industry in the African region.
Your law firm is organising a conference on Fintech on the 10th October 2017 entitled ‘FinTech, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency: Legal challenges and opportunities’. Can you tell us more on this event?
Well, I believe it is important to organise such an event as most workshops that have been organised so far pertain to the financial aspect of FinTech but with no real emphasis on to the legal challenges and opportunities of this industry.
It is very important to look at what is the legal framework that exists or will exist for the operation and regulation of this new and innovative industry. The Bank of Mauritius and the Financial Services Commission are the two main regulatory bodies in the Mauritian financial services scenery.
The Bank of Mauritius regulates the banking sector and the Financial Services Commission regulates non-banking financial services. Under Mauritian law, contracts to buy and sell are governed by the Civil Code. For the operation and regulatory aspect, we need to look at the Banking Act, the Financial Services Act and the Securities Act. There are now investors wishing to set up investment funds to deal with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoins and Ethereum, and we need to update our laws and regulations.
So where does FinTech sit within the Mauritian legal framework? With the help of foreign experts, the conference will give the opportunity to management companies, banks, start-ups and professionals operating in the financial sector to enhance their knowledge and also to find the answers to the legal challenges and opportunities of the Mauritian FinTech industry.