In the first keynote address of AFME’s operational conference Optic on Tuesday morning, Verena Ross, chair of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), lined out how her organisation foresees the path to the “Digital Age”.

“The strategic role of data has evolved significantly,” said Verena Ross, on stage in Brussels.

As the task of financial market supervision is scattered across national watchdog authorities, ESMA plays a herding role. Verena Ross emphasised that the consistency of supervision across the EU will be a high priority for her office in the coming years – with access to good data being key. A data strategy has come in place to support this. Providing the “national competent authorities” (the “NCAs”, that is, the national supervisory authorities) with access to ESMA’s central data pool should be one step towards it.

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Another aspect of digital progress is obviously in the area of distributed ledger technology, DLT, where the EU has its Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) and DLT Pilot Regime coming in. Monitoring crypto-asset markets is naturally a challenge.

On the development towards shorter settlement times in the securities markets (with the US and Canada moving to a T+1 basis in spring 2024), Verena Ross pointed to the recently announced consultation on the idea of the EU following after. She referred to today’s two-day cycle as worth questioning.

A brief Q&A tail to the presentation saw Karel Lannoo, CEO of high-profile think tank CEPS, post the question whether financial data from the national authorities are sufficiently comparable for ESMA to act upon.

With a smile, Verena Ross could respond that “you know the area well enough to know that the answer to that question is ‘not quite yet’”.

The yearly Optic conference, in Brussels on 17–18 October 2023, is hosted by the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME). Optic stands for the “Operations, post trade, technology and innovation conference”. PostTrade 360° is there, with our coverage collected here.