Governments’ role in the evolution of fintech
Governments' role in fintech
Governments globally see financial technology (fintech) as a means to deliver social and economic outcomes, but are taking different approaches toward supporting fintech evolution.
The real question is how can governments strike the right balance – and how can fintech and financial services industry players alike shape the ongoing conversation?
While governments around the world, and sometimes within the same jurisdiction, have taken different approaches toward fintech, it is clear they see fintech as a critical part of the future of financial services – and believe they have a role in ensuring the sector evolves for the good of consumers, businesses and the global economy.
For most governments, supporting fintech is a means toward achieving four key goals:
- Increasing financial inclusion and access. Governments want their people to have access to quality financial services. Fintech provides the ability to expand reach to the un/under-banked and the un/under-insured, while also supporting positive social and economic outcomes.
- Improving efficiency. Governments want financial services to be efficient and sufficiently robust, which makes enabling technologies and solutions such as real-time payments, open application programming interfaces and blockchain especially appealing.
- Stimulating competition. Governments want to encourage healthy competition in order to create a sustainable and effective industry, with many seeing new fintech players as a driving force for competitive change.
- Ensuring stability. Governments want to ensure the stability of the financial services system as a whole by managing emerging bubbles and potential systems risks, and by finding ways to support technologies that provide clearer line of sight on emerging risk areas, as well as better management of risks and compliance.
Turning goals into action
To achieve their objectives, many governments are focused on modifying existing regulatory frameworks and enacting new legislation to bridge identified gaps. To support these activities, government typically follow a 'three Es' approach.
- Engage. Working with fintech startups and the broader financial services community to develop an understanding of current trends, uses and risks related to emerging technologies.
- Educate. Working to better educate themselves on the complexities of fintech innovation, by partnering with other governments and organizations to conduct research and gain more insights.
- Experiment. Working to find ways to allow experimentation while maintaining sector stability, such as by setting up sandboxes and running hackathons.
Many governments are also supporting fintech in other ways – from providing tax incentives and grants to encouraging mobility of talent. They are also engaging with fintech companies directly to improve their own data and analytics, digital identity, payments and transactional banking. More progressive governments are also opening up their data, in a safe and controlled manner, so startups can create new value.
Shaping the conversation
There is no doubt governments have a key role in the evolution of fintech, but they need to balance their activities carefully – encouraging innovation without hindering evolution. As governments develop policies and programs, there needs to be active engagement with stakeholders, whether through formal feedback mechanisms or ad hoc opportunities and conversations, in order shape a future that benefits all stakeholders.
For more detailed insights into the role of governments in fintech evolution, including a number of key examples, read our latest edition of Frontiers in Finance.