The FCA has issued a statement on applications for full authorisation to operate peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms.  The statement, published on 31 March 2016, reports that the FCA has received numerous applications from firms seeking permission to operate a P2P platform and that its consideration of whether or not to authorise these requests is set against a backdrop of recent legal changes clarifying how P2P platforms sit with other regulated activities.

As at 30 March 2016, only eight firms have been fully authorised to operate P2P platforms. However, there are 86 firms awaiting a decision, 44 of which have received interim permission.  The FCA states that it is working closely with individual firms to ensure that rigorous statutory standards are met and that firms receive authorisation as quickly as possible.  However, how long it takes to consider an application will depend on numerous factors including the completeness of the application, how complex the business is and the firm demonstrating compliance with regulatory requirements.  The FCA has up to 12 months in which to make a final decision.

The FCA refers to the Innovative Finance ISA, which launched on 6 April 2016 and is expected to further increase consumers’ awareness of P2P platforms.  Only P2P loans on platforms operated by firms that have full authorisation will be eligible for the Innovative Finance ISA.