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Jo Ann Barefoot explores how to create fair and inclusive consumer financial services through innovative ideas for industry and regulators




Mallory Kwiatkowski

A short post this month, as I’m in the midst of an intensive “world tour” speaking on fintech and regtech. In November and December I’m doing three trips to Europe, three to Asia, and one to Africa (if we can sort out the logistics!). I had to decline another in Asia to get home for Christmas. And between international travels, I’m also speaking at U.S. conferences in Washington and New York.

Each event is distinct, but collectively they’re a global mosaic of fintech and regtech activity. Several dimensions stand out.

Focus:  Many of these gatherings are on regtech only. That’s new. A year ago, regtech events were rare, and pretty much nonexistent in the U.S. Now, over just two months, I’m speaking at three dedicated regtech events, at the “regtech day” of several fintech conferences, and on “regtech panels” at others. Regtech is roaring into our lives.

Audience: Most of these events draw broad audiences, but a big subset are for the regulators themselves. Financial regulatory bodies worldwide are grappling, together, with the novel opportunities and challenges arising from innovation. How can it grow their economies? How should should they regulate fast-growing mobile financial services, especially in the developing world? What are the challenges -- and what’s the right role for government -- in consumer protection, financial inclusion, cyber-security, identity authentication, anti-money laundering, crypto-currencies, ICO’s, shifting competition models, protecting systemic stability, and building modernized, inter-operable payments systems?

Size: The Monetary Authority of Singapore grew its Fintech Festival from about 13,000 people last year to an estimated 30,000 this month. The tagline called it the “world’s largest fintech conference,” but surely it’s the world’s largest financial event of any kind. People came from all over the world, attesting both to the rise of fintech as a powerful new global sector, and also to Singapore’s remarkable leadership in remaking financial regulation. This is not a remote effort by one country. It’s part of a robust, integrated global dialogue among regulators and industry, aimed at profound change that will eventually affect every financial company. For more on the MAS vision, here’s my podcast from last spring with its fintech head, Sopnendu Mohanty.

Worth noting:  this enormous fintech “festival” was sponsored not by a trade group and not by a conference company...but by a central bank.

Here are my events:

Speaking of regtech, I had great fun turning the tables to be the podcast guest of Lou Carlozo on the BAI’s great show:  BAI podcast: The Unstoppable Rise of Regtech. Listen and enjoy!

New podcasts:

This month’s must-reads:

Other upcoming events (in addition to those listed above):

  • OCC Bank Information Technology Conference, January 9-12, Washington, DC

Be sure to follow me on twitter and facebook.  As always, check the website for more updates. Most importantly, keep innovating!

Jo Ann