ACFS initiated Funding Australia’s Future in 2012 to better understand the changing dynamics of the financial system and its impact on future economic growth.These four papers, released in May 2018, explore the growth of fintech, its implications on the structure of the financial sector and the value it can produce for the broader Australian community through increased competition in the financial services sector.
More information on each research paper can be accessed using the links below.
A framework for understanding fintech and its value
David Link and Rodney Maddock | Download the paper
Although Fintech has significant value – both private and social – to deliver to Australians, its potential is often misunderstood and mischaracterised because the ‘context’ of fintech is not well defined or understood. Additionally, the potential private benefits from fintech might differ importantly from the social value of any innovation.
This paper defines fintech as an innovation enabled by one or more technological ‘triggers’ that have potential to provide value through enablement or disruption in the financial services industry. It proposes a framework to understand fintech in terms of customer type, industry subsector and enabling technology.
It argues there is significant commercial and social value to be gained from fintech – with the largest social benefits to be derived from improved efficiencies. Policymakers and regulators should act to ensure the social value is maximised, while managing the associated costs such as financial stability.
Internationally, fintech growth has happened under three types of conditions: 1. Countries with a history and culture of promoting start-ups (e.g. US), 2. Countries where businesses have been able to operate in regulatory gaps (e.g. China) or 3. Countries that have adopted fintech-specific policy and regulation (e.g. UK and Singapore).
The major categories for intervention to encourage fintech development are: policies that remove regulatory barriers to entry (more open and transparent regulation, industry sandboxes, licensing reforms and pro-competitive mandates); policies that remove market barriers to entry (opening up banking and payments system modernisation); industry promotion and support (grants and businesses assistance).
Care is needed in changing policies and regulation to facilitate competition. To improve welfare, benefits must result in overall improvements in efficiency and economic growth, rather than benefitting one business, sector or industry at the expense of others.
The Australian Financial System (Murray) Inquiry made nine recommendations which aimed to enable financial firms to innovate and increase competitive tension, deliver more efficiency and enhance user outcomes. In 2015 the Australian Government accepted all these changes in its response to the Inquiry.
This paper tracks the progress of the Government’s stated commitments.
For (non-government) cryptocurrencies to be broadly accepted forms of digital money they will need consumer trust and confidence. Whether their enabling technologies can achieve these without the involvement of financial institutions and government is an open question.
Building consumer confidence in new digital currencies will require participation of intermediary institutions and a much greater level of regulation than currently exists.
In response to concerns about existing forms of cryptocurrencies, governments are likely to investigate or implement their own digital currencies to prevent disruption to sovereign money and the ability to manage the wider economy.
A key objective of this project is to ensure the papers bring together a diverse range of insights and opinions from all areas of the Australian financial services sector, however in accordance with the ACFS Code of Research Conduct, the final outcomes are independent. This project was supported by the following organisations:
David Link is Chair of Verrency and an advisor and board member of firms in the global fintech space, David is a retired Managing Director of Accenture, where he held global practice leadership roles in Asia Pacific, Australia, Korea, France, and Benelux, primarily focused on financial services.
Professor Rodney Maddock is a Professor at the Australian Centre for Financial Studies. In the decade to 2012 he was a senior executive at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Earlier roles included Chief Economist for the Business Council of Australia andHead of the School of Business at La Trobe University. He has a distinguished academic record with extensive academic publications and experience working in a number of countries. His ongoing research is in the areas of Finance and Australian economic development.
Deborah Cope is Principal at PIRAC Economics. She has extensive experience in analysing and reforming governments’ economic, social and environmental policies, and has also been involved in developing and implementing competition policy, improving the effectiveness and efficiency of regulation and regulators, and designing and implementing strategies for competitive neutrality between government and private businesses.
Professor Kevin Davis is Professor of Finance at the University of Melbourne and Research Director of the Australian Centre for Financial Studies. His primary research interests are financial regulation, financial institutions and markets, financial innovation and corporate finance. He is the Deputy Chair of SIRCA, a member of the Australian Competition Tribunal, and has undertaken an extensive range of consulting assignments for financial institutions, business and government.
Dr John Vaz is a Senior Lecturer at Monash University. Prior to this, John held chief executive and senior management roles from start-ups to large enterprises in the Tech sector across many countries. John has done business and worked in many countries including Australia, SE Asia and the UK. John’s research interests follow his PhD in Finance in how the macro-economy impacts financial markets, financial institutions and investor behaviour.
Dr Kym Brown is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Banking and Finance at Monash University. She teaches across a number of banking and international finance related subjects. She has research interests in banking, Islamic finance, Chinese banking, ethics in cryptocurrencies and inequality.
The Australian Centre for Financial Studies (ACFS) initiated the Funding Australia’s Future project in late 2012 to undertake a stocktake of the Australian financial system, and its role and challenges in facilitating future economic growth within the wider economy.
In an economy which has enjoyed 26 years of consecutive economic growth and showed a resilience through the Global Financial Crisis which was the envy of many nations, the financial sector has played an important role. The past decade, however, has been one of significant change. The growth of the superannuation sector, the impact of the GFC, and the subsequent wave of global re-regulation have had a profound effect on patterns of financing, financial sector structure, and attitudes towards financial sector regulation. Identifying the extent to which these changes are transitory or likely to be more permanent is crucial to understanding how financing patterns and the financial sector will develop over the next decade or so.
The Funding Australia’s Future project is in four stages, the fourth of which explores the growth of fintech, its implications on the structure of the financial sector and the value it can produce for the broader Australian community through increased competition in the financial services sector.