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Innovation and fintech are the focus of ASIC’s Corporate Plan


asic corporate regulation

The regulator identified digital disruption and financial innovation as part of its core challenges over the next four years.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission's (ASIC) new corporate plan renews its focus on fintech by outlining how it will mitigate the risks of digital disruption. The plan comes after ASIC's budget was extended by $127.2 million in April. The plan identified five key challenges to ASIC's long-term vision, two of which related to fintech, as well as the key risks it will focus on in 2016-17 - 2018/19.

"We continue to see new and established firms explore digital platforms and service offerings in areas such as digital advice, crowd-sourced equity funding, marketplace lending, payments systems, and distributed ledger technologies," the report said.

"Although innovation has the potential to offer many benefits, it may also bring risks."

The five key challenges identified are aligning conduct in a market-based system with investor and consumer trade confidence, digital disruption and cyber resilience, structural change, complexity driven by financial innovation and globalisation.

While individual projects and goals were outlined for each challenge, ASIC is looking more generally to strengthen its capabilities and take the "detect, understand and respond" approach to identify possible and actual misconduct.

To mitigate the risks of digital disruption and financial innovation, ASIC plans to focus on the development and distribution of high-risk products, financial literacy and supporting government reforms. It will also continue its Innovation Hub, which so far has helped 74 entities by providing co-working spaces for startups, internal working groups to assist innovative businesses and a Digital Finance Advisory Committee.

Here are some of the notable projects ASIC plans to start or continue in the next two financial years:

  • ASX and distributed ledger technology. ASIC will work closely with the ASX on its proposal to introduce distributed ledger technology.
  • Standards for technology changes. Standards for technology changes and management will be developed and implemented.
  • Compliance in insurance, superannuation and managed funds. ASIC will focus on the effectiveness of disclosures, the selling of inappropriate products (particularly insurance to indigenous communities), the sale of low-value add-on products and a report on life insurance claims handling practises.
  • Cyber security. ASIC will be monitoring domestic and international developments as well as work with the government to identify cyber risks. Surveying to market and conducting surveys will also be part of its agenda.
  • Guidance for innovative businesses. Following in the same line as its guidance for marketplace lending, ASIC plans to progress FSI initiative on non-cash payments as well as working with the Treasury on the ePayments code.

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