Could RegTech Be in Line for a FinTech Boom?
Brexit has left a cloud over business for almost three years now, creating uncertainty and reticence in the world of business. However much like any other major economic or political event, there will undoubtedly be sectors and businesses that benefit from the changes. Luke Davis from IW Capital looks at the future of RegTech in a post-Brexit UK.
The financial crash of 2008 created a huge amount of mistrust toward big banks and FinTech entrepreneurs have taken advantage of that. The disintermediation of banks from areas such as travel money has given rise to a new kind of financial service firm, an area set to carry on this trend. There are some brilliant ideas in FinTech and the problems they solve are widely unrelated to Brexit, meaning that investment is likely to continue to grow.
In much the same way as FinTech came from the financial crash, existing sectors will be disrupted, and new ones created to tackle problems that arise. Many FinTech innovations were born from a lack of trust of banks and traditional sources of financial services. Since 2008, over 200 FinTech companies have been founded in the UK alone, with seven of these going on to reach a billion-dollar valuation or a ‘Unicorn’ status.
Unicorns refer to start-ups that have reached what many perceive to be the holy grail of a $1billion valuation. In terms of producing these companies, the UK is the third best place in the world behind only the US and China. In 2018, 13 companies reached this valuation in the UK, bringing the total number to 72. Many of these companies are FinTechs born of the financial crash. It seems likely that in a few years’ time we may be discussing an even greater number of companies reaching this milestone with a contribution from new and growing sectors.
With Brexit, there are going to be more problems to solve, and entrepreneurs are going to come along and innovate.
The first sector that looks set to benefit is regulation and regulation technology. With Brexit, there are going to be more problems to solve, and entrepreneurs are going to come along and innovate. Everything will get more complicated with import and export, say, and some smart man or woman will come along and solve it. RegTech has already been impacted – perhaps indirectly – by the financial crash, as an increased amount of regulation and legislation led to the birth of many innovative solutions to keep financial services at such a high pace.
Since this time, it is clear to see the rise of this sector within financial services, with over 300 companies working with Financial Services firms in a variety of sectors. Each of these dealing with a specific problem that is ever evolving and often becoming more complex.
Regulatory Reporting is one such example, it enables automated data distribution and regulatory reporting through big data analytics, real-time reporting and the cloud. Many financial organisations have expressed frustration with the high level of redundancy, dependence on manual processes, and opacity of their regulatory reporting processes. This is a critical activity for financial institutions and without tech solutions would require a concerted effort from a range of departments including, risk, finance, and IT.
Risk Management detects compliance and regulatory risks, assesses risk exposure and anticipates future threats. There are over 45 companies specialising in this already and with so much uncharted territory around leaving the EU, this looks to be a potentially important field in the next few years. One of the most important things businesses can do is to properly understand and calculate risk, take too few and growth will stall, take too many and you may be overexposed.
Compliance is the largest RegTech sector with a large scope and responsibility.
Identity Management & Control facilitates counterparty due diligence and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures. Alongside Anti Money Laundering (AML) and anti-fraud screening and detection. Identity management is the second biggest sector in terms of the number of firms and is hugely important in a wide range of ways especially when growing and taking on new customers and clients.
Compliance pertains to real-time monitoring and tracking of the current state of compliance and upcoming regulations. Compliance is the largest RegTech sector with a large scope and responsibility. Companies from this sector are charged with meeting key regulatory objectives to protect investors and ensure that markets are fair, efficient and transparent. They also seek to reduce system risk and financial crime. As regulations change when we do leave the EU, this will likely be one of the key sectors to face some of the challenges that arise.
Transaction Monitoring provides solutions for real-time transaction monitoring and auditing. It also includes leveraging the benefits of distributed ledger through Blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Even apart from Brexit, cryptocurrency and Blockchain tech looks to be a sector of huge growth in the next few years, regulating that in the context of traditional financial service providers will be of significant importance.
For all of these sectors, it is likely that changes to legislation and procedures after Brexit will have a profound effect on what is required by firms in order to stay compliant, potentially creating a huge number of problems that will have to be dealt with in one way or another.
You just have to reverse engineer all the problems that are going to be thrown up by Brexit and then you’ve got investment opportunities. Here’s a problem, let’s find an opportunity.
Wherever’s there’s huge problems and disasters, there’s always going to be an entrepreneur who comes along and will find a solution. From my perspective, that’s exciting because these new crunch points provide opportunity and employment. I set up IW Capital in a recession after a stock market crash, and WeSwap was set up because the market was falling to pieces. What actually happened was the birth of the FinTech sector. Opportunity comes out of a crisis.