Fintech (financial technology) is a thriving and diverse sector covering a range of areas such as online or neobanks, payment systems, payment gateways/application programming interfaces (APIs), investment banking back-end infrastructure, insurtech, wealthtech, and regtech. It also covers more cutting-edge areas like central bank digital currencies, cryptocurrencies, and non-fungible tokens.

However, the report, Fintech state-of-play: opportunities for finance professionals, also reveals challenges around cyber security risks, emerging standards, and regulations around this new frontier, and provides recommendations to address them. 

ACCA and CA ANZ polled some 5,700 of their members, with 50 percent seeing career opportunities for themselves in fintech, while 14 percent do not. The remainder either don’t know (10 percent) or are undecided (26 percent), perhaps keeping future possibilities open. 

When asked about cyber security risks linked to fintech adoption, 83 percent say they are concerned given the data-driven nature of fintech and the need for it to gain the trust of governments, businesses, and the public.

Respondents are also keen to see government interventions to support fintech adoption, including building links internationally to learn best practices (86 percent) and working with education partners to improve skills and training in fintech (85 percent). 

The report reveals ten different job roles for accountancy and finance professionals within the fintech and illustrates how their contributions and skillsets add value to the organizations that they work with or represent. The case studies span a rich seam of experience from CFOs and auditors to digital transformation experts and entrepreneurs. 

To help them do this, the report recommends that accountancy and finance professionals:

  • Build awareness of the products and services within the fintech landscape globally and the competitive dynamics that will shape it looking ahead. This is a multi-dimensional sector with both business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) propositions.
  • Understand the regulatory considerations pertinent to the areas of fintech they’re exploring. In many instances (particularly for emerging areas like cryptocurrencies) there is a need for those who can help to shape the standards and regulatory treatment.
  • Reinforce an innovation and purpose-driven mindset. Fintech is extremely fast-paced and dynamic, and benefits from individuals who are excited about new ideas that can drive sustainable value; and who can pivot fast to changing business requirements

To provide an enabling environment for this to happen, the report further recommends the following to governments and regulators:

  • Collaborate and explore opportunities for common principles to underpin a multi-jurisdiction approach to fintech regulation. There are precedents, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) covering all EU member states. An international regulatory sandbox should be considered to explore minimum global standards for Fintech regulation. Developing labs/sandboxes to support innovation was supported by three-quarters of the accountancy and finance professionals globally who fed into this research.
  • Prioritize secure data management and cybersecurity at the heart of frameworks for government and regulatory approval given the concerns highlighted. There could be various ways to drive public confidence in this regard such as government-backed certification schemes for fintech services and products – particularly those that are B2C to protect end-users. 
  • Governments should also incentivize fintech innovation and growth. Fintech is an industry that attracts talented people and helps to develop high-skill jobs. It aligns with government and privately funded research programs, such as those led by major universities. And technology developed for Fintech can catalyze other sectors, such as health.
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