There have been some encouraging developments with regulatory sandboxes, where fintechs and banks can innovate in a test-and-learn environment supported by regulators.
Unfortunately any kind of engagement between regulator and regulated can get misunderstood as lobbying or regulatory capture. Obviously this is not what we are proposing but rather creating a more-open avenue for information exchange, without lobbying, which raises awareness for both parties.
This does not have to be a zero-sum negotiation between the industry and regulator. Banks, as well as fintech companies, must be objective in presenting their issues and concerns. They have a key role to play in shaping regulation, and must not hide from their responsibility of maintaining a robust financial system.
4. Financial crime is everybody’s problem
Bankers agree financial crime should be stopped in its tracks and banks have an obligation to report anything suspicious to the relevant authorities. However, the policing component of complying with regulation in some cases has become overly burdensome.
Take an anecdotal example of a bank having to validate the name of a ship’s captain and check they are not on a list of named terrorists. This check occurs after documents have been prepared by a range of external parties and delays the shipment of goods, thus impacting businesses and trade flows.
Thinking this through further, who would think it reasonable for it to be effectively left to the banks, whose role happens late in the process, to detect this? Particularly when so many other players earlier in the documentation and logistics process would have the opportunity to challenge how a terrorist could suddenly be named a ship’s captain without years of industry experience.
There are other parties involved in global trade well placed to fight financial crime. Shipping companies, insurers, customer agents and freight forwarders, for example, can detect suspicious shipments.
And in the case of buying property, lawyers, estate agents and land title registries can spot if a transaction is suspicious.
Despite efforts already being made by banks there is still much more which can be done via thinking differently about their processes, product development and technology investment – ensuring compliant outcomes are integrated into their solutions from inception and not treated as a burdensome ‘bolt on’ after the fact.
Combatting financial crime should be seen as everybody’s problem so all parties – in addition to banks and fintechs – are working together to the same end.
5. There needs to be consistency in global regulations
The complex regulations introduced since the crisis are further complicated by the differences in regulation between jurisdictions. It is costly for international companies to navigate the differences which may mean a global solution cannot be rolled out across multiple markets.
In some cases money is being spent on accommodating these complexities which could be put to better use elsewhere – like lending, for example.
There can also be discrepancies with national interpretations of global regulations. This can lead to a situation of regulatory arbitrage where a country’s less-strict regulations are advantageous to local players because international companies have to comply with more-stringent regulations in their home market.
International fintech companies face a similar situation, and Bitcoin has been treated very differently by national regulators. Addressing the gaps and creating global consistency will create a stronger regulatory framework for everyone, whether it is banks or fintech groups.
The lessons from regulating trade finance show there are unintended consequences to certain types of regulation.
When it comes to regulating the new world of financial technology, everyone has a role to play in ensuring that the accountability is in the right place and regulation protects individuals and the financial system, and at the same time does not impede economic growth or innovation.
Mark Evans is Managing Director, Transaction Banking at ANZ, and also a member of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Banking Commission’s Executive Committee.
Alexander Malaket is President of Canadian consultancy OPUS Advisory Services, focusing on international business, trade and investment and a specialist in trade and supply chain finance. He is Deputy Head of the ICC Banking Commission’s Executive Committee.