Binnenmarkt, Industrie, Unternehmertum und KMU

Fintech, distributed-ledger technology and the token economy

Fintech, distributed-ledger technology and the token economy

Fintech

Fintech comprises all applications of technology to financial services, usually in a digital context. It includes innovation in existing markets, as well as more disruptive changes that create new technologies and markets. This innovation fosters competition, creates new business models, and offers opportunities for small businesses, both as drivers of such change and users of its outcomes.

In line with the Commission’s SME policy, as outlined in the small business act, we promote and support the uptake of fintech by SMEs. This is part of our broader fintech policy.

Sharing ideas and good practice is essential to ensure access to finance in the digital economy. The 2019 publication 'Creating FinTech opportunities for SMEs' shows recent developments and shares national experts' experiences with fintech/alternative finance in their national and regional ecosystems.

The contribution of distributed-ledger technology

Distributed-ledger technology (DLT) enables safer, faster and cheaper transactions in an ever-increasing number of sectors. The Commission considers DLT as a breakthrough technology that is key for the EU's competitiveness.

Blockchain is the best-known DLT, but many others adding to the fast-growing spectrum of cryptocurrencies, digital assets and tokens. They not only widen the spectrum of finance available to small businesses. Furthermore, they create many other benefits, often built on crowd-based approaches (crowdsourcing, funding, innovation) that emerged in alternative finance.

The Commission coordinates and carries out numerous DLT-related activities. Some are particularly relevant for SMEs in an industrial context, such as the project on blockchain for industrial transformation jointly carried out by Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs and the Joint Research Centre.

The token economy's additional value

Tokens are (digital) representations of value that can be exchanged against goods or services. They can take a variety of forms, financial or not, and are based on DLT. Moving towards a token economy implies an ever-closer integration of production activities, including upstream and downstream processes (sourcing, distribution etc.) with digital payments and enforcement of contracts in an automated manner. If applied properly, this could improve efficiency and access to markets for small businesses. We are currently assessing these issues and engaging with stakeholders to cultivate an understanding of the token economy's potential opportunities for European businesses.