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Balancing innovation with regulation to grow SA financial services

Technology is changing the way financial services are produced and consumed worldwide. South Africa has long been acknowledged for having a sound, advanced banking system. However, at the onset of the fourth industrial revolution, with humans and technology interacting like never before, South Africa faces a new set of opportunities and challenges as technology becomes a central part of financial services.

Policymakers and regulators must find ways to preserve our sound financial system, while enabling innovation that promotes improved access to finance and growth in the financial services sector.

To understand which policy and regulatory approaches best suit the South African financial sector in managing this balancing act, it is crucial to know where South Africa stands relative to its global peers. Genesis partnered with the Centre of Excellence in Financial Services to answer this question in a report titled “The impact of the fourth industrial revolution on the South African financial services market”.

The centre wanted to benchmark our technological innovation against international trends, and partnered with Genesis to undertake an industry-wide analysis of financial-technology (fintech) and innovation in the South African financial services market. This is a landmark report that provides the most comprehensive analysis of innovation in financial services in South Africa, how it is disrupting the sector, and what the implications are for South African regulators based on international best practice.

The analysis included identifying and researching successful local fintechs in the core banking functions of payments, deposits and lending, capital raising, investment management, and market provisioning. The team conducted over 40 interviews with stakeholders from banks, innovation labs, fintechs and regulators to understand their perceptions of innovation in the South African market, how digitally enabled banks were, the impact of a digital revolution on the existing operations of banks, and any challenges in achieving a digital strategy.

This information, together with research, allowed us to document the approach the industry was taking with regard to fintech, to highlight some of the cutting-edge technology that is shaping innovation, and to consider how regulation could support this industry while protecting consumers and ensuring the stability of the financial services sector.

The report provides a comprehensive overview of fintech and financial innovation in South Africa, the approaches to fintech regulation around the word, and how this should influence South African regulators’ approach to regulating fintech. The Centre of Excellence chose to submit the report to the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in response to their consultative document on the implications of fintech for the financial sector. The report is now available to the public on the Centre of Excellence website and will generate necessary debate amongst industry stakeholders and regulators on this important topic.

Impact of 4th industrial revolution on SA financial services market: Executive summary and Full report

SA fintech policy to take shape in 2019

Media report: Better banking through technology

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