It was a sunny and unseasonably warm November day at the Organization of American States (OAS) on Wednesday. Beyond this weather perk, however, the timing seemed right for the first-ever Global Regulatory Forum on Alternative Finance.
Recall — just about a week ago — the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to approve Title III of the JOBS Act. And mere days before the forum, Apple, Google and other tech giants came together to form the Financial Innovation Now coalition.
How should banks, governments and fintech companies interact with one another?
So the representatives of the alternative finance industry, the government and academia gathered to discuss the regulatory future of alternative finance were in good company.
In a beautiful OAS conference room, speaker after speaker offered up perspectives on how to reconcile fintech innovation and policy. How can — or should — banks, governments and fintech companies interact with one another?
The global forum wasn’t a chance to answer this question, per say, but rather a chance to explore the varieties of answers that exist (or could exist).
The event organizers at AltFi broke global discussion down by region and many of the insights provided a window into the alternative finance debate in different parts of the world.
- Richard Swart, a crowdfunding and fintech researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, delivered insights on how awareness and acceptance of crowdfunding is high in the U.S. He cautioned, however, that sophisticated understanding of the tool might not be.
- Rupert Taylor of AltFi Data followed up with a discussion on how marketplace lending platforms, platforms that match existing capital with businesses who require it, are most popular in the alternative finance milieu in the U.K.
- Paul Poeltner, a crowdinvesting entrepreneur, spoke about the challenges of alternative finance in the European Union and Eastern Europe — primarily the difficulties of cross-border investment.
Finally, diversifying the Western mindset, Xin Zhou, the Deputy Secretary in Chief of the CCUAIF (which stands for “China computer users association of inclusive finance,” according to his LinkedIn), revealed the rough-and-tumble world of peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding in China. China’s crowdfunding marketplace is booming, he said, but it is also unstable and many platforms fail.
Other speeches focused on topics ranging from cybercrime to the history of alternative finance to real estate crowdfunding — all circling the question of how to support the alternative finance industry.
So what did we learn?
Different countries and regions are at diverse stages in their development of an alternative finance industry and the regulatory tools to deal with that industry. Additionally, each country or region faces a unique array of cultural or political challenges to adoption of new financial technology.
The future, it seemed in that conference room, is still very much a topic of discussion. But fans of alternative finance and fintech can rest assured that, at least in certain circles, it’s a hot topic.
Knowledge is power!
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