Keynote: Regulation of P2P Lending in the U.K.

Regulation of P2P Lending in the UK
Opening Keynote
Christopher Woolard, Director of Strategy & Competition, Financial Conduct Authority

Mr. Woolard’s involvement in consumer affairs goes back a long way, when his passion for innovative products that make the most out of technology led him to work of the team that developed iPlayer.

In his keynote, Mr. Woolard talked about the responsibilities of regulators. The FCA has a very different mandate from other regulators in that it sees promoting consumers’ interests as a top- line duty, he said. At the same time, ensuring there is enough competition in the industry is crucial to the industry’s growth.

Mr. Woolard warned of the danger of trying to avoid policy intervention, which he sees as helpful because most markets are complex and beleaguered with information asymmetry. In theory, consumers are equipped with the right information to find the right product -- but in practice, there is confusion and complexity, which can deter consumers. At this point the FCA steps in to level the playing field, try to get more players onto the field and work to support useful innovation in the interest of consumers.

Mr. Woolard said regulation should be honest, fair and transparent. He noted that recently, Morgan Stanley identified the UK as the most compelling place for marketplace for lending in Europe – a status towards which the FCA have been working very hard. Mr. Woolard expressed excitement about this but said there is no room for complacency, and things can always be improved.

“We are very much open to considering innovative business models, and we absolutely want to see markets that can grow, that can flourish, and that can serve their customers as well,” he said.