Regulation is a strong force in the financial sector regionally and internationally, it plays a very significant role in the financial ecosystem stability and openness to innovation. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a shift in the methods and practices of financial activities, making digitalization imperative for effectiveness. In reality, fintech makes financial systems open to broader, flexible and creative approaches to operations, product and services, financial inclusion and regulation, and the adoption of emerging digital technology
The regulatory, supervisory, financial system stability and consumer protection roles of the Apex Regulators could be pivotal to cushioning the effects of the pandemic or inimical to efforts at coming out of the woods; the approach the Regulators adopt would determine the effects in the long run.
The apex Bank classifies Impacts of the pandemic on general business as 3Cs:
- Cash flow – the pandemic has disrupted the total amount of cash and its equivalents being moved into and out of a business and the amount of money that is generated or used within a given period.
- Capital flow – the pandemic has restricted and tighten up the movement of money for investment, business production or trade, limits the money moving within corporations or between countries.
- Customer flow – the pandemic has affected customer tastes and approach to the adoption of products and utilization of services.
The cash flow, capital flow and customer flow challenges have made the shift from efficiency and productivity to resilience and sustainability crucial for economic development. The pandemic redirected the minds to the fact that it is possible to operate from a technologically advanced position that will ensure sustainability.
Catalog of Some Regulatory Responses;
- Education and Research – Cambridge Centre of Alternative Finance (CCAF) was established as a research-focused initiative of the University of Cambridge aimed at solving the problems of the traditional financing system through fintech education and research for the regulators. Proper understanding of the fintech landscape and availability of data are expedient to properly regulating the sector. This also includes the upskilling and training of regulatory workforce for the digital world as this helps to build capacity and sustainability among different industries.
- Easing up on tight policies towards the application of technology to financial system regulation and flexibility of policies have given more rooms for Fintech to thrive. Electronic payments and mobile banking have been given an enabling environment for wide adoption and scale while e-Commerce, logistics and lending operations are being boosted. This is making technological advancement barrier-free, creating equal standards and empowering the locally grown companies to compete favourably.
- Enabling the traditional Banks on their digital journey and deployment of the national switch have eased speed of transacting and facilitated the steady flow of economical activities.
- A reduction in the total value of collateral as debt and promotion of equity finance instead of debt finance to prevent an under-capital economy which future-proofs businesses.
- Most Regulators have also developed wide and robust data and cybersecurity policies aimed at protecting the consumer and financial institutions against the menace of data privacy breaches and manipulation, and cyber fraud
In summary, it has become crystal clear that the Regulatory New Normal includes remodelling of policies with innovative and digital mindedness, strong focus on equity rather than debt financing, prioritization of resilience and sustainability over efficiency and productivity, strong backbone of digital infrastructure that assures of a trusted ID, data and security system and above all, cross-country, regional and global collaboration at co-learning and co-creating solutions at the speed of light as COVID-19 could prove to be a blessing in disguise that would unearth the new waves of innovation, if well approached.
The Intercontinental Regulators Virtual Session with the topic — COVID-19: Enabling Speedy Business and Economic Recovery Through Regulation held on Thursday, 25th June 2020 featured Professor Olayinka David-West, Academic Director, Lagos Business School, Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief FinTech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore, Kashifu Inuwa, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency, Marius Jurgilas, Board Member, Bank of Lithuania, Vimal Naikeny, Management Advisor, Technology, Bank of Mauritius, Dr Segun Aina, President, Africa Fintech Network, David Kruijff, Co-Lead and Dr Patrick Saidu Conteh, Regional Lead, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, CCAF.
Fintech Association of Nigeria, the pioneer national fintech association in Africa and founding member of Africa Fintech Network ( A Network of thirty-four (34) National Fintech Associations in Africa), member Global Fintech Hub Federation has been at the fore-front, promoting and advocating for right regulation and investment as the key enablers of innovation in financial technology, Fintech.