By Caroline Brady, head of compliance and MLRO at Access PaySuite.
There have been some big cultural changes in the corporate world over the last 24 months. In the same way that flexibility and remote working have moved from being a perk to an expectation, we must turn our attention to an area that’s ripe for reform in the financial and payments sector, specifically – our attitude towards regulations.
Many people in the industry often have the same misconceptions: compliance takes time, keeping track of new rules is challenging and they can stifle innovation. But this could not be further from the truth.
Just as senior leadership teams are now seeing the fruits of empowering staff to work from home, I believe that a change in thinking about regulators like the FCA can also reap huge benefits.
We need to shift our perspective. Let’s start to see the regulator as an enabler to help promote healthier financial futures for consumers, rather than a system designed to make things harder for the industry. In the spirit of partnership, we can truly move forward into an exciting new age where finance and payments can harness technology in a responsible and innovative way.
It’s no secret that we’re in an incredibly exciting period for fintech and other innovations in the payments space. Developments like crypto-currency are now mainstream – Lush was an early adopter in 2017, but there’s a growing list of online marketplaces now accepting it as payment. Open banking has paved the way for alternative ways to pay such as Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL), alongside B2B instant invoice payment products like Penny.
The landscape is increasingly complex though. While BNPL is now under review, it’s difficult for the regulators to keep up with every new development as it’s released at hyperspeed. This brings us to a crossroads. Does this huge surge in demand for new regulations fuel the fire and more complaints from frustrated providers, or is it the disruption needed to make real change?
Every reputable operator in the payments space understands its responsibility to protect the consumer, but without regulations, this just isn’t possible. We’re already seeing the risk of uninformed consumers dabbling in cryptocurrency investments, then ending up in financial distress. By turning our focus towards protecting consumers’ financial wellbeing, we could open a stream of communication between businesses and regulators, sharing insights on what consumers want and need – and learning what’s possible.
A new financial focus
The development of tech has now made it a requirement for our sector to create safer environments for those that use it. As well as being ethical, there’s also a strong business case for doing so. Merchants will choose to go with a partner they can confidently trust, over one with no due diligence which could affect their reputation.
This level of competence is a core driving factor at Access PaySuite. Since January 2021, my role has been to highlight any concerns and create a truly seamless experience for those using our platform. Underpinning every product innovation or new acquisition, we also have a regulatory roadmap to ensure we’re doing what we can to protect our clients, and their customers with as little disruption as possible.
As well as making it easier and safer for consumers to benefit from the many ways tech can help them, this also helps to drive forward further innovations. By following and creating fresh regulations to make new technology more secure, businesses are free to spend more time concentrating on creating new products. At its current pace, some companies run the risk of having to recall or pause development at any moment, to ensure compliance as new guidance is released. If they were to open early dialogue with regulators and keep the channels open throughout development, this roadblock could be removed.
At Access PaySuite we know that to move forward, we need to collaborate We know the skills and specialties we have within our business – and our strategic acquisitions bring in other areas of expertise.
Ultimately, this ethos is crucial for our new regulatory future, and any business that wants to be seen as a leader must understand this. Sectors, banks and payments firms should be working harmoniously together to support better outcomes for consumers. And of course, seek to foster a collaborative working relationship with regulatory bodies.
This won’t be without its challenges. As someone who’s worked in finance for over 30 years, navigating the regulatory landscape isn’t without its challenges, equally historic attempts to collaborate on ways to update or develop legislation have been tricky to negotiate. But we must continue to promote the spirit of collaboration, it is both smart and absolutely crucial.
For more information on Access PaySuite, please visit: https://www.accesspaysuite.com/