FinTech inquiry pivots to COVID-19 response

Denham Sadler
Senior Reporter

The decision to delay the landmark Parliamentary inquiry into FinTech and reopen submission to address COVID-19 is “dangerous” and risks taking the momentum out of the government’s response to the crisis, according to FinTech Australia.

The Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology was launched in September last year and had been expected to hand down an interim report this month, and a final report by October this year.

The inquiry has so far focused primarily on the issue of screen scraping, the Consumer Data Right and other efforts to foster the growth of the FinTech ecosystem. More than 150 submissions were made to the committee before the window closed earlier this year.

FinTech Inquiry
Unhappy: Fintechs says the inquiry delays are unhelpful

But in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and around the world, the committee has thrown the timetable out the window and reopened submissions for two weeks, with a focus on how the sector can help over the coming months.

“Since the committee finished its last round of public hearings in February, Australia’s economic and financial environment has changed dramatically as a result of the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic.

“The committee is keenly aware that these rapid and unexpected changes will have a significant impact on the FinTech and RegTech sectors,” the committee said in a statement.

“In light of current circumstances, the committee is not going to press ahead with its previous timetable. Instead, the committee has reopened its inquiry submission process to enable submitters to provide further input to the committee on what the critical needs of the sector are at this time.

“The committee would like to hear what support is necessary in the short, medium and long term, including post-recovery, focusing on solutions that can be delivered swiftly by government and the private sector.”

The decision was slammed by FinTech Australia general manager Rebecca Schot-Guppy, who said the committee had also been supplied with a list of measures three weeks ago that it said would help FinTechs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Reopening submissions now is dangerous. Not only does it dramatically delay and take the momentum out of any government response, but it also asks founders to juggle one of the biggest business crisis Australia has seen and the drafting of a submission,” Ms Schot-Guppy told InnovationAus.

“We hope the government will consider our existing measures, aimed at supporting industry immediately and longer-term, and proceed without needing further input.”

Submissions have been reopened until 10 April, and the committee has asked for short submissions in the form of short summaries or dot points so as to not add “any unnecessary workload to businesses in Australia at this time”.

Earlier this week ACCC boss Rod Sims confirmed that the Consumer Data Right would still go ahead as planned, with open banking set to officially kick off from July.

Mr Sims said that now is a crucial time to expedite digital innovation, and after extensive talks with the big banks and other stakeholders, it has been decided that open banking should still go ahead from the next financial year.

“We may not know when the gains from CDR will kick in, but we can be certain they will be profound. Competition, consumers and the economy will benefit considerably,” Mr Sims said on Monday.

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