February 19, 2018 / 1:07 PM / a month ago

Global regulators neutral on new rules for 'hyped' fintech

LONDON (Reuters) - Global banking regulators signaled on Monday they were in no rush to adapt their rules to financial technology firms that have begun nibbling away at banks’ markets.

The regulators looked at how fintechs could disrupt banks’ business models by offering payments services, crowdfunding, mobile banks and online trading.

“Despite the hype, the large size of investments and the significant number of financial products and services derived from fintech innovations, volumes are currently still low relative to the size of the global financial services sector,” the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision said in its report on the implications of fintech on banks and regulators.

Analysts have said banks could become irrelevant as fintech firms become the “face” of financial services, a scenario Basel said seems far-fetched.

“A common theme across the various scenarios is that banks will find it increasingly difficult to maintain their current operating models, given technological change and customer expectations,” the Basel report said.

“As a result, the scope and nature of banks’ risks and activities are rapidly changing and rules governing them may need to evolve as well.”

The Basel Committee writes rules for the larger banks operating in all the world’s major financial centers. It looked at risks and opportunities from fintech before considering next if any new rules are needed.

“The fast pace of change in fintech makes assessing the potential impact on banks and their business models challenging,” Basel said.

The regulators themselves should assess whether their staff are being trained properly to keep up with technological changes in financial services, Basel also said.

Regulators have shied away from imposing heavy regulation on a fledgling sector, mindful that policymakers are keen keep their financial centers attractive to upstarts given the potential for jobs and growth they present.

Separately on Monday, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission signed an agreement to collaborate on supporting innovation in fintech.

Consultants KPMG has said that new fintech investments fell from $47 billion in 2015 to $25 billion in 2016, Basel said.

Fintech can bring benefits such as wider access to financial services, more tailored banking, and cheaper fees for customers. Basel said. Banks are also fighting back by launching rival mobile banking products and making themselves more efficient.

Risks include the same as those for banks, such as cyber attacks, failing to comply with data privacy rules, and IT glitches.

Reporting by Huw Jones. Editing by Jane Merriman

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