RegTech or regulation/compliance technology is defined as any solution that solves the challenges for regulated entities and regulators. Using technologies including AI and Natural Language Processing, RegTech is an enabler bringing efficiency, productivity and trust to the eco-system. In a post-Hayne Royal Commission world of financial services, the need for RegTech is clear and present.
Australia is number 3 in the world behind the US and UK in terms of the concentration of RegTech product development. This status places us right in the middle of a RegTech centre of excellence and the natural hub for the RegTech Association to have been established in 2017.
RegTech solutions are as diverse as financial crime monitoring software, risk management tools, including conduct and culture, product lifecycle, marketing compliance, operational risk, digitising from PDF to web, workflow tools improving compliance and transparency, financial advice compliance, income and expense verification, online compliance education and training, Know Your Client onboarding solutions, enterprise-grade search solutions and voice data analytics.
The RTA’s mission is focussed around accelerating the adoption of RegTech, reducing the time to value for all stakeholders right through to the end-user consumer. The focus is at a grassroots level, running a range of programs that help all stakeholders engage, collaborate and work more efficiently together. The last 12 months, since the RTA hit its stride, the conversations have been elevated, all regulators have comprehensive RegTech programs and banks and others are recognising that people alone won’t solve the problems.
My career had not so much been in tech sector but the capital and investment sector, first working in investment banking in payments processing and then in financial services advocacy in superannuation, financial markets, education and venture capital and private equity. I always had a general passion for standards, education, diversity and ESG.
In early 2017, during a sabbatical of short term stints at CSIRO’s Data61, Telstra’s muru-D, AIIA, Digivier and at Microsoft, I inched closer to the tech juncture and happily found myself at the door of a newly formed RegTech Association who had a handful of members and big plans. Actually, there was no door, just a website, a database of names from the launch and lots of appetites to challenge the way that RegTech vendors approached their large and complex client base. Since early 2017, the RTA has grown to be a connected community of 120 organisations from across the globe. Organisations such as CBA, Westpac, Bank of Queensland, Toyota Finance, Voltbank are all members as well as large-scale technology companies such as SAS and Microsoft. Ninety of the members are founder-led RegTech firms.
Despite the traction achieved so far, there are still challenges in adopting RegTech. Compliance and risk management processes are deeply embedded and touch many internal hands within regulated entities. For a large organisation to be aligned with the right appetite, budget and business imperatives when regulations are constantly changing, coupled with choosing the right RegTech solution at the right time is a high mountain to climb.
Many RegTechs are very small businesses who find it challenging when confronted with the sometimes onerous procurement, cloud-unfriendly environments, demand for free proof of concepts until the product is proved and general IT security all creating hurdles.
This is where the RTA adds value. We help everyone to understand each other, develop standards that will assist them in doing business together and bring the regulators into the conversation. We show the potential opportunities and connect up the dots.
Over the next six months, we should expect our first industry research to be completed. This will measure for the first time, how far RegTech has penetrated and with whom. We have also seen the industry coming together to develop a series of checklists to help the buyers and sellers create commerce.
There’s a fantastic opportunity in RegTech globally. It’s predicted that within five years RegTech firms will outnumber FinTechs. This is simply because RegTech can be applied beyond financial services to any regulated industry vertical such as Telco, Government, Health Services, Agriculture, Education and Real Estate.