Treasury publishes SRR Code: Treasury has published an update to the Special Resolution Regime (SRR) Code of Practice under the Banking Act, which it has presented to Parliament. The updates take account of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and also needed change to reflect the 2013 changes to the regulatory structure. (Source: Treasury Publishes SRR Code)

Treasury publishes competition in banking paper: Treasury has published a policy paper titled "Banking for the 21st Century: driving competition and choice". The paper outlines the current state of competition within the UK banking sector and the actions the Government has already taken to encourage increased competitiveness. The paper also outlines measures the Government plans to take to continue this work, including:

  • an intention to apply anti-money laundering (AML) regulation to digital currency exchanges in the UK: Treasury's response to its call for information on digital currencies explains its priorities, which include limiting the opportunities for financial crime related to digital currencies, clarifying how existing legislation applies and supporting development of legitimate businesses. The Government will consult formally on its approach to applying AML laws early in the next Parliament;
  • the launch of the "midata" initiative on 26 March and a GoCompare current account comparison tool, with the aim of consumers finding it easier to see where they can get good deals;
  • an intention to deliver an open Application Programming Interface (API) standard in UK banking: Treasury's response to its call for evidence on data sharing and open data in banking explains the support for the standard and says the Government will set out a detailed design framework for it by the end of 2015;
  • the British Business Bank will call for  credit reference agencies and finance platforms to request designation by Treasury to receive SME data from banks under powers contained in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill. It hopes this will allow smaller lenders access to potential SME borrowers and thereby improve competition with the big banks;
  • welcoming a BoE study which will quantify the economic benefit of improving access to credit data for trade creditors and publish its results in the autumn. Again, it wants to allow trade creditors better access to the information they need to compete effectively; and
  • confirmation that the new Payment Systems Regulator will become fully operational from 1 April.

The paper emphasises that these planned measures will build on actions already taken and make it easier for new entrants to break into the market and for alternate business models, such as crowdfunding, to compete with more traditional lending approaches. (Source: Banking for the 21st Century: Driving Competition and Choice)

Treasury confirms payment systems designations: Treasury has confirmed its plans to designate as payment systems under the Banking Reform Act Bacs, CHAPS, Faster Payments, LINK, Cheque and Credit, Northern Ireland Clearing, Visa and MasterCard. For the time being it will not designate American Express, Diners Club, PayPal or any other system. (Source: Designation of Payment Systems: Response to the Consultation)

Treasury consults on annuities: Treasury, jointly with the Department for Work and Pensions, has launched a call for evidence on "Creating a secondary annuity market". The Government is seeking views on changes that will give annuity holders the flexibility to sell their existing annuity to a third party in exchange for a lump sum. The consultation closes on 18 June. (Source: Creating a Secondary Annuity Market: Call for Evidence)

Treasury makes new CIS exemption: Treasury has made new legislation exempting from the definition of collective investment scheme funds that qualify as social investment schemes. The change takes effect from 13 April. (Source: Treasury Makes New CIS Exemption)