The Move to Regulate Fintech

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Financial technology — known more commonly as fintech — is attracting a lot of attention globally, but there are arguments that regulation for the phenomenon must be developed at a rapid rate in order to facilitate the burgeoning industry.

Financial technology – fintech – is one of the most lucrative terms in recent years. Since the revival of the global economy after a challenging international crash, fintech startups have been reshaping the way we view and use electronic currency. These startups have been heavily invested in, with clients consisting of large corporations making them very attractive for further investment.

Fintech companies have a wide range of applications, including banking, payments, insurance and wealth management. Some of the world’s most promising fintech companies include PayPal, Stripe, iZettle and Biz2Credit (whose CEO Rohit Arora will be speaking at the upcoming Dublin Tech Summit (DTS) on February 15th and 16th 2017).

However, although it all seems like an abundance of opportunities for investors and entrepreneurs alike, as well as a refreshing way to manage finances for clients, like any trend that involves money, there must be regulations set in place. The biggest problem with fintech companies – particularly in the United States – is that they can be set up and run without the government restrictions that oversee and regulate established financial firms.

What we are now seeing as the dust settles from the fintech startup craze are governments and comptrollers around the world forming official regulations and guidelines to be followed by fintech firms in order to allow fair trade and competition.

Fintech Regulations across the Atlantic

Over the next few months, the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will launch an initiative for fintech companies, which will see the introduction of specific regulations in cooperation with other financial regulators.

The OCC will also be introducing a programme to allow financial firms to experiment with their new strategies under federal supervision and will have offices established in Washington D.C., New York and San Francisco.

There are numerous reasons why America is taking these steps to insure proper regulations are implemented. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the Comptroller of Currency himself Thomas J. Curry praised the potential of fintech and the competition it brings to established, traditional banking firms. When asked about the fear accompanied by fintech’s changes to the financial landscape, Curry responded “I don’t think we have a negative view toward financial technology. It’s a valuable challenge to the traditional banking industry.”

Company & Client Trust

Curry did however express concerns for the customer-company trust barrier; “Whether you’re a bank or nonbank, ultimately if you’re offering a transactional product you need to maintain the trust of your customer. You need to provide basic assurances that the transaction is safe, that there is not a real potential to have it be hacked or the underlying data to be corrupted.”

A very relevant statement by Curry, as U.S. fintech lenders loaned approximately $20 billion to their clients last year, which according to Morgan Stanley may increase to $120 billion by 2020.

This same trust could also be applied to fintech firms’ investors, as well as their clientele.

According to KPMG International, fintech companies received an estimate of $13.8 billion in investments in 2016. As any investor will tell you, it’s crucial you know this money is protected.

Fintech in Ireland

In September 2015, Ireland saw the launch of the Fintech & Payments Associate of Ireland (FPAI). The organisation was coordinated by Maples & Calder and KPMG with the help of stakeholders and leaders within the growing Irish fintech industry to carefully monitor and protect the actions of fintech firms in Ireland and their clients. The movement was also supported by government bodies, including Enterprise Ireland, the Department of Finance and the IDA, seeing the move as a good opportunity to set regulations in place.

The FPAI encourages clear communication between all areas of technology within the financial services area in a ‘better together’ approach to growing Ireland both financially and technologically.

“Ensuring that an open and constructive dialogue is maintained, that businesses at all stages are engaged in the issue of regulation and that best practices are shared across the industry.” – FPAI

As mentioned earlier, any firm or organisation that handles money and investments must be regulated. There is no fear that fintech firms are not regulated, but what is essential for their continued success is a punctual set of rules and regulations that can be respected by all financial services and more importantly, to protect customers and investors.

Biz2Credit’s CEO Rohit Arora will also be joined at DTS 2017 in February by Oliver Harris, who leads J.P Morgan Corporate & Investment Bank’s interactions with fintech firms to discuss the impact of fintech in his London-based sector.

DTS tickets are available now. Click here to secure yours.

Evan O’Gorman
@evan_ogorman

 

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