Bank of England cancels Mansion House speech; launches fintech accelerator

Bank of England cancels Mansion House speech; launches fintech accelerator

Bank of England governor Mark Carney cancelled his annual set piece speech to the industry at London's Mansion House last night following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was killed by an assailant at her constituency office in West Yorkshire earlier in the day.

Carney was planning to use the address to emphasise the positive impact of disruptive technology on the financial services industry and the economy more generally. Fintech and blockchain technology were expected to be to the hot topics at the Mansion House after Carney told MPs last month that financial technology issues would top the agenda at his annual state of the union speech.

The Governor told the Treasury Select Committee: "My speech will be about aspects of fintech and distributed ledger technologies and... broader applications for the structure of the financial system and what that Bank of England is going to enable that or should do to enable that, to start the broader conversation."

But in the aftermath of the murder of Jo Cox, the Bank posted a short statement on its Website to say that the event had been cancelled.

"In the light of the dreadful attack today on Jo Cox MP the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, will no longer be delivering the planned speech at Mansion House," the statement read. "The Governor will be attending the event and will now deliver a short speech reflecting on today’s events."

In a message posted by the Bank on Friday, it now transpires that Carney was also to preview the launch of a new fintech accelerator "to work in partnership with fintech firms on challenges that we, as a central bank, uniquely face".

Participants in the accelerator would be expected to engage in short Proof of Concept projects, following work already progressed by the Bank in the areas of data anonymisation, cyber security and distributed ledger technology.

"Other areas of potential future interest for the accelerator include finding new ways to structure and analyse large datasets, machine learning, particularly in relation to anomaly detection and pattern recognition, and protection of the Bank’s sensitive data."

With the full text of the Mansion House speech in the shredder, it was left to the Irish central bank governor Philip Lane to fill the void, speaking on the topic of financial innovation at a lunch event in Dublin. Lane noted the combined threats and opportunities to the financial sector from disruptive new business models in a speech which majored on the financial stability issues associated with fintech.

His comments come just days after the Bank updated its regulatory guidance notes to encompass emerging fintech type businesses including Payment Institutions, Electronic Money Institutions and Money Transmission Businesses.

Speaking more broadly on the implications for central banks, Lane noted that "technological innovation may also alter the role of central banks in managing the money supply and acting as a lender of last resort".

"At one level, growth in various types of electronic payment technologies looks set to reduce the traditional role of notes and coins in the monetary system," he said. "At another level, there is much discussion of the relative merits of more widespread adoption of private-sector digital currencies versus a new role for central banks in the direct issuance and management of publicly-backed digital currencies."

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