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NZ fintech at tipping point as regulators start taking sector seriously

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Dec 7, 2017  - New Zealand's burgeoning fintech sector is coming of age with the likes of the Reserve Bank thinking more deeply about the impact changing technology will have on the broader financial system.  The central bank identified the new wave of fintech as having "the potential to significantly change the structure of the financial sector" in its six-monthly financial stability report last week, singling out blockchain, crypto-currencies, application programming interfaces (APIs), big data and artificial intelligence, and digital platforms for peer-to-peer services among the most important.

Head of financial stability Bernard Hodgetts said in an interview last week that the central bank is thinking deeply about various scenarios arising from the new technology, and has identified open banking - which decentralises banking through third-party APIs - and crypto-currencies as areas where it can beef up its research.

"We've put quite a bit of thought into what sort of scenarios might lead to the core banking system suddenly facing more competition than it previously did," Hodgetts told BusinessDesk. "The core level of profitability of the system could potentially be competed away if you had some form of new entrant into the market that could take business away from the banking sector and I think the banks would be very mindful of that risk."

The Reserve Bank's decision to highlight fintech in the report follows earlier efforts by the likes of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Financial Markets Authority to support innovation in financial services, and the bank wants to work with other authorities to make sure it doesn't stifle digital innovation.

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