The year 2020 has been a year of digital transformation and acceleration to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. By necessity and by design firms have implemented the roll-out of technology, often at speed, to enable business activities to continue as countries went into lockdown. The applications that are covered by the term fintech are fast becoming part of financial services firms’ identity. In a marketplace that is still maturing, the question is whether corporate governance and the culture of financial services firms have kept up to pace with this new tech.
Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence’s (TRRI) fifth annual survey report (link is: here) on fintech, regtech and the role of compliance explores these issues. This year’s survey results represent the views and experiences of more than 400 compliance and risk practitioners.
The survey found the adoption and implementation of technology has taken a huge step forward during the pandemic, despite the continuing budget challenges that firms face. Sector growth is expected to accelerate in the coming months and years, despite a slowdown in new start-ups during 2020 due to the pandemic. Firms, and their customers, are realizing value from their use of a variety of fintech solutions.
Firms must be careful to deploy solutions on solid foundations and this means getting the corporate governance right. A quarter of respondents reported that boards and risk and compliance functions needed to be more involved in fintech solutions; an absence of appropriate skill sets may be one reason for this lack of involvement.
More G-SIFI firms this year said they were “neutral”, as opposed to “extremely or mostly positive”, when asked their opinion of fintech solutions. The survey did not explore the underlying reasons for this shift but it could be that the pandemic has restricted firms’ investment in fintech and more firms are having to make do with existing applications rather than buying new, more advanced applications that would meet their needs more closely.
Regtech applications continued to provide popular, embedded solutions for firms in areas such as compliance monitoring, financial crime, AML/CTF, sanctions and regulatory reporting. Budgets were predicted to increase, with a mix of in-house and external solutions the most frequent option selected by respondents.
Fintech presents extensive opportunities for firms in the future. The presence of bigtech and the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) will enable firms to increase customer-focused initiatives such as financial inclusion. To be able to exploit these areas firms need to overcome a number of challenges: budgetary limitations, weaknesses in corporate skill sets, the limitations of existing IT infrastructure and the developing regulatory picture. They must also ensure they have an appropriate corporate governance framework capable of managing the deployment of fintech systems.
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