Introduction

In 2016 there were several regulatory developments regarding the use of technology in the financial sector. The Central Bank of Argentina issued regulations aiming to integrate technological innovations in the financial sector to:

  • promote greater formalisation of the economy;
  • increase access to banking services; and
  • facilitate access to and use of digital tools.

This update describes some of the most important regulatory changes in the banking framework regarding the implementation of new technologies for financial transactions.

Mobile payment platform

Communique A 5982 allows financial institutions to offer customers with call accounts the ability to make immediate fund transfers and payments to third-party accounts through a mobile payment platform.

The transfers must be individualised according to their type within the platform and may be made for an aggregate amount not exceeding the equivalent of the minimum wage, as determined by the competent authorities for the previous month.(1) The regulation specifies that this limit does not apply if supplementary security measures have been implemented.

The Central Bank determined that customers must be able to access the platform using their debit cards or other means, provided that:

  • the bank guarantees the authenticity of the transactions; and
  • customers are given a physical or digital receipt of the transaction.

As opposed to other regulations, this section of the communique uses neutral language which does not limit its applicability to a specific form of technology (eg, bank cards).

The Central Bank also determined that financial institutions offering home banking services must:

  • provide customers with a free mobile application to make such transfers;
  • offer customers the ability to make immediate fund transfers using security devices – including generic devices which may be provided by third parties – to validate transactions through access cards linked to their call accounts free of charge; and
  • offer fund recipients and payment service providers a free application similar to a 'payment button' allowing buyers to perform transactions at virtual sales points through immediate fund transfers from call accounts.

According to this regulation, financial institutions offering home banking services must be connected with other local providers offering fund transfer and payment services.

The Central Bank also determined that funds transferred via the platform as payments for goods and services must be free of charge up to a monthly amount equivalent to one-twelfth of the maximum annual sales of a micro-enterprise in the services sector. Pursuant to Communique A 5989, this limit applies to any fund recipient, regardless of size, category or activities.

Digital and electronic signatures

Communiques A 6058, 6059, 6068 and 6071 allow financial institutions to use digital and electronic signatures for:

  • completing foreign exchange transactions;
  • executing documents;
  • opening bank accounts; and
  • receiving cheque deposits.

Communique A 6058 allows financial institutions to use electronic and digital signatures in foreign exchange transactions. Among other requirements, the Central Bank stipulates that banks must verify a customer's identity in person and execute specific agreements to use digital and electronic signatures for purchases and sales of foreign currency.

The Central Bank has also authorised financial institutions to open bank accounts for new customers electronically, provided that this service incorporates security measures that are equivalent to verifying the customer's physical presence. To this end, Communique A 6059 stipulates that financial institutions must take the necessary precautions to comply with anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism regulations (AML/FT), particularly in connection with the identification of customers.

The Central Bank requires financial institutions to implement the necessary procedures, technologies and controls to:

  • allow the authentication of an applicant's identity and the accuracy of data provided;
  • comply with all regulations regarding the use of technology; and
  • comply with all regulations regarding the storage, authenticity, integrity and confidentiality of information, and its protection from alteration, destruction, misuse and unauthorised access.

The Central Bank also explored the possibility of sharing customer information among financial institutions to verify their identity in order to open bank accounts electronically. This sharing of data must comply with the requirements of the Personal Data Protection Law (25,326).

Regarding the creation, preservation and management of documents, Communique A 6068 allows banks to use electronic documents, provided that their inalterability is assured and that their authorship and authenticity can be proven. This regulation also provides that electronic signature procedures do not apply to cases in which the applicable legislation requires a specific format.

Electronic deposit of cheques

Communique A 6071 enables the electronic deposit of cheques, subject to – among other requirements – the implementation of various security measures, as well compliance with the national payments system's communication standards. The Central Bank notes that compliance with the security standards required by this communique does not replace the mandatory risk assessment performed by each financial institution.

Communique A 6099 introduces the immediate debit (DEBIN) as a new payment method. DEBIN allows banking customers to authorise goods or service providers to collect payments from their accounts directly. This payment method is available online and through mobile applications.

Comment

These regulations highlight the Central Bank's intention to promote the use of new technologies for legal and financial transactions. Certain regulatory frameworks, such as the AML/FT rules, are still being updated to create a technology-friendly environment without compromising their primary objectives.

Endnotes

(1) Pursuant to Resolution 2/2016 by the National Employment Council, the current monthly minimum wage is Ps6,810 which is approximately US$425 at the current exchange rate.

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