There has been much speculation around the implications of Brexit and the possible termination of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). One of the clear benefits of both NAFTA and the free trade agreement entered into between Mexico and the European Union was the exemption of NAFTA and EU insurers from the foreign investment restriction. However, as this restriction was eliminated in 2014, affiliates of insurers located in NAFTA and EU member states will not be substantially affected.
The funds of some participants of the Interbank Electronic Payments System (SPEI) were recently affected by a series of unprecedented cyberattacks. The Mexican Central Bank revealed that approximately $15 million (Ps300 million) had been involved in diverse irregular transfers, subject to investigation. The cybercriminals had identified a flaw in the system that permitted receivers of SPEI transfers to withdraw cash almost immediately after receiving the transfer so that the money could not be traced.
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources recently published a decree granting administrative benefits for the issuance of new concession titles for exploiting national waters to persons that hold a title which expired after January 1 2004. Notably, the decree allows for the issuance of new concession titles even if the zone or specific aquifer from which the original concession title was authorised to extract water is now considered a restricted or banned zone or aquifer.
The Federal Institute of Telecommunications recently approved the final programme for the functional separation of Mexico's fixed incumbent companies as a consequence of the asymmetric regulation imposed on the América Movil Group (AMX). However, AMX has informed the Mexican Stock Exchange that it will challenge the approval of the programme and there has been some scepticism as to the results and practical consequences of the separation.
The president recently enacted the Financial Technology Institutions Law. The Senate had unanimously approved the bill on the law in December 2017 and sent it to Congress, which made no changes. The law seeks to build a regulatory framework that will encourage the development of innovative financial services, increase the level of competition and financial inclusion and place Mexico at the forefront of the industry.
The Federal Institute of Telecommunications recently announced the auction of the 2.5 GHz band. The auction's purpose is to assign the commercial use and exploitation of 120 MHz of the 2,500 to 2,690 MHz band for the provision of wireless services. Four companies and one consortium are interested in formally participating in the auction process, which is expected to be completed by November 2018.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently added two new articles to the Insurance and Bonding Sole Provisions which set out new surety insurance contract requirements. Contracts must now include, among other things, confirmation that the insurer is authorised to pay the indemnity for damages without prior notice or consent of the policyholder and that the indemnity may be paid as compensation or as a penalty for the damages suffered.
The National Waters Commission recently submitted to the Federal Regulatory Betterment Commission its draft revision of the Mexican official standard which establishes the maximum permissible levels of pollutants in wastewaters discharged into national waters or properties. The draft aims to modernise the standard by including additional terms and definitions, pollutants and parameters regarding wastewater discharges into federal waters, as well as new sampling and reporting frequency obligations.
There were a number of court precedents in 2017 concerning financial transactions. For example, a recent non-binding collegiate court precedent broadened the scope and source of information that judges should use to analyse and determine the existence of usury, while another validated judges' authority to use the annual interest rate published by companies that engage in vehicle financing. Further, a binding Supreme Court precedent dealt with the maturity date of promissory notes.
In order to prevent the misuse of customer information, the National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Insurance and Bonding Sole Provisions with regard to information gathered electronically. Among other things, the amendments require insurers to implement security measures and mechanisms for the transfer, storage and processing of information generated electronically when contracting insurance and bonds and rendering other services to customers.
The Ministry of Finance and Public Credit recently circulated a substantially amended draft of the Financial Technology Bill, which has been renamed the Financial Technology Institutions (FTIs) Law. The law aims to regulate the financial services provided by FTIs – including those which are bound to specific regulations and offered or rendered through innovative means – as well as the organisation of such institutions and their operations.
The National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently filed a draft emergency Mexican official standard before the Federal Regulatory Betterment Commission. The draft establishes the criteria for classifying types of special and hazardous waste derived from the hydrocarbons sector, determines which types of waste are subject to a waste management plan and details the procedures for formulating such a plan.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission has issued a temporary measure to enable insureds and their beneficiaries to be immediately compensated for damages suffered as a consequence of the recent earthquakes that affected several areas of Mexico. The temporary measure applies to Mexican insurers that have ceded risks to reinsurers and allows them to use funds to meet assumed risks and recover compensation from reinsurers at a later date.
In recent years, Mexico has been rated as having one of the highest rates of credit card fraud in the world. The National Banking and Securities Commission recently published the Resolutions that Modify the General Rules Applicable to Credit Institutions, which require credit institutions to verify information and documentation filed by users and customers with different government bodies in order to assure the identity of each prospective customer.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds in order to increase legal certainty with regard to the regulatory framework that applies to actuarial, financial and investment functions. These amendments aim to ensure that the commission has the information required to take necessary regulatory action in the event that irregularities are detected and prompt intervention is needed.
The recently published draft Financial Technology Law will regulate the organisation, operation, function and authorisation of companies that offer alternative means of access to finance and investment, the issuance and management of electronic payment funds and the exchange of virtual assets or cryptocurrencies. Among other things, the initative aims to take advantage of the opportunity to expand the financial market to include segments not covered by traditional banking institutions.
Following the expansion of shale oil extraction projects and the discovery of unconventional hydrocarbon deposits, the National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector recently commenced a public consultation process to enact applicable water protection guidelines. The draft guidelines provide a glimpse of the authorities' preliminary approach to shale oil projects with regard to water resources and environmental protection.
The National Insurance and Bonds Commission recently amended the Sole Provisions on Insurance and Bonds to provide the value of the investment unit that insurers and bonding companies must consider when calculating their required minimum paid-in capital. Insurers and bonding companies must comply with the required minimum paid-in capital each year to ensure that they can meet their financial obligations and responsibilities in the exercise of their activities.
As part of its expansion of operational safety and environmental protection guidelines and administrative provisions, the National Agency for Industrial Safety and the Protection of the Environment in the Hydrocarbons Sector turned its attention to oil, gas and petrochemical pipeline transportation activities. Recently issued guidelines complement the environmental legal framework so that both environmental and personal safety are guaranteed during the lifetime of a pipeline project.
Two years after the Insurance and Bonding Companies Law was enacted, surety insurance is finally starting to take effect in Mexico. In essence, surety insurance is easier to collect and enforce than traditional bonds. The federal government is expected to start requesting surety insurance from its contractors, rather than traditional bonds. This shift in policy will encourage development in the surety insurance market.