Financial intermediation is one of the fundamental pillars of the Panamanian economy, it represents about 7.2% of GDP, financial and banking services in Panama have been characterized by their rigidity, robustness, and formality, which guarantees and provides legal certainty to all users of the banking system. However, because of COVID-19, financial services were affected, as were the services of the International Banking Center, precisely due to the rigidity and lack of regulation in new technologies.
- Panamanian Banking System
It is regulated and supervised by the Superintendence of Banks, whose main objective is to ensure the soundness and efficiency of the Panamanian banking system. The Vision of the Superintendency of Banks is to maintain a competitive International Banking Center that contributes significantly to the country’s economy and is a guarantee of the stability of the economic and monetary system, outlining the guidelines, regulations, and proposals for the modernization of the system in today’s digitized world.
- Banking Law and its modernization
The Banking Law dates to 1998, which has undergone minor modifications on different occasions; however, to date it has not been updated or modernized in a comprehensive manner, which is key to the development of the FINTECH ecosystem in Panama.
The Superintendency of Banks is currently working on a bill that seeks to develop the regulatory framework of legal vehicles and financial services that complement Panama´s international offer, including Specialized Financial Entities, for the development of electronic wallets, digital currency providers, payment management systems, applications to send and receive money, among others.
- FINTECH at present
FINTECH has been gaining ground in the world and Panama does not escape from it, in fact, for several years many technological platforms have been developed with great success, despite the lack of regulation. Mainly platforms for sending and receiving money, electronic wallets and digital payments.
COVID 19 promoted the development of e-commerce and with it the development of new technologies, which are here to stay, and we see that they will be gain ground in the financial sector in the short and medium term.
Although Panama does not have a specific regulation on FINTECH, this has not been an impediment to the development of sophisticated platforms; however, we consider fundamental a regulation that modernizes the Panamanian financial system and formalizes the matter, strengthening investment, innovation, the development of new technological platforms and the attraction of new investments in this area.
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Ana Cristina Arosemena
CENTRAL LAW in Panama