FinTechs get a new Senate focus

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

A senate committee has been formed to conduct a year-long inquiry into the Australian FinTech and RegTech industries as potential areas for further reform, with the expectation it will further validate the growing sector.

The Select Committee on Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology was established with bipartisan support on Wednesday afternoon and will produce its final report by October next year.

The committee will be chaired by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, who moved the motion in the Senate and is the former policy chief of the Financial Services Council.

Andrew Bragg: Will lead a year-long inquiry into FinTech/RegTech opportunities

“The focus of our work will be national competitiveness. We will complete a stocktake on the progress to date and a blueprint for Australian FinTech and regtech,” Senator Bragg said.

“FinTech has a big future in providing jobs. Clever and competitive must be our credo. It’s also essential we start finding ways to widen the use of the consumer data right recently established by the government.”

The committee has been tasked with investigating the size and scope of the FinTech opportunity in Australia, barriers to its uptake, the progress of reforms and how the sector is progressing compared to other jurisdictions.

It will also look into current regulatory technology practices and further opportunities on offer in that field.

The committee’s inquiry will take place over the launch of open banking early next year, and it will oversee this scheme and monitor its effectiveness across its first year. It will also look at the wider adoption of the Consumer Data Right, which will soon be applied to the electricity sector, along with startups’ access to the New Payments Platform and APRA’s licensing regime.

The new committee has been welcomed by industry body FinTech Australia, which has been encouraged by its global perspective.

“We applaud the government for taking a wider view and looking to other markets which has been something FinTech Australia has advocated for a long time given Hong Kong and Singapore’s National Strategy for FinTech,” FinTech Australia general manager Rebecca Schot-Guppy said.

The ongoing success of the FinTech sector relies on widespread adoption and partnerships with bigger players, and the government can help to nurture both, Ms Schot-Guppy said.

“There is still a level of unawareness among consumers about FinTech and the benefits they can enjoy through embracing new financial service offerings,” she said.

“Government could play a role in helping first validate and them promoting these services to consumers. Trust is hard to earn in financial services. Government simply talking about new offerings on the market and their benefits would greatly aid FinTechs in building that trust.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison played a prominent role in driving a series of FinTech-friendly reforms when he was Treasurer, including the introduction of the Consumer Data Right and the regulatory sandbox.

He appointed Liberal Senator Jane Hume as assistant minister for FinTech after the May election.

The committee will be made up of six senators: three from the Coalition, two from Labor and one independent.

The Coalition’s nominated senators are Senator Bragg, Nationals Senator Susan McDonald and Liberal Senator Paul Scarr.

The committee will be accepting submissions and holding a number of public hearings throughout its year-long inquiry into the FinTech sector.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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