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Experts from UNSW, Tsinghua University and Australian financial regulatory institutions discuss the global impact of technology developments in the financial sector

The Financial Innovation and Regulatory Change in the Context of (De)globalisation Workshop run by the Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre, as part of a program of work under the UNSW-Tsinghua Research Collaboration Grant Scheme, was held successfully at UNSW Sydney last Friday, November 16.

As one of the few workshops focusing on central bank digital currency (CBDC), a digital fiat currency issued by the central bank, the workshop covered a range of different topics from CBDC to the latest changes and trends in financial technologies and currency regulations around the world, especially in Australia and China. Experts from UNSW Sydney, China’s Tsinghua University, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) shared their opinions on this cutting-edge issue.

Scientia Professor Ross Buckley from UNSW Sydney, who is a leading expert in the field of CBDC that remains a strategic research area of the Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre, delivered an opening speech on financial innovation and regulatory change where he looked back of the history of FinTech and RegTech. He then introduced the evolution of currency with Dr Anton Didenko from UNSW Sydney as the starting point of the workshop. Associate Professor Simin Gao, a lead investigator from Tsinghua University raised some legal concerns of FinTech and RegTech that particularly observed in the Chinese society.

Reserve Bank of Australia’s Manager of Payments Policy, Ed Tellez, pointed out at the workshop that according to the bank’s data on digital currency, number of cash payments has shrunk by more than 30% over the past decade, while the value of payments made through new payments platform has grown dramatically from less than $1 billion in this February to over $8 billion in September.

Herbert Smith Freehills CIBEL Centre Co-director, Associate Professor Heng Wang, the other lead investigator of the grant, addressed CBDC and its implication from a legal perspective. Associate Professor Heng Wang, Associate Professor Elizabeth Thurbon, and Dr Rob Nicholls recently returned a trip to Tsinghua University for a workshop on CBDC, FinTech and RegTech.

Senior Advisor from ASIC Innovation Hub, Jonathan Hatch, introduced the financial regulatory framework in Australia and how FinTech and RegTech have been involved in ASIC’s function as Australia’s corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator.

Experts then had an in-depth discussion on the latest technology trends and innovations in FinTech, RegTech, and CBDC, and how these would impact Australia. Professor Buckley, Associate Professor Wang, and Associate Professor Elizabeth Thurbon from UNSW Sydney and Associate Professor Gao from Tsinghua University were in the panel.

The workshop concluded with professionals from UNSW Sydney analysing the potential risks and opportunities of the technological developments in the financial sector and its regulation. Particularly, Dr Rob Nicholls addressed on problems that arise from a failure to consider competition issues and Dr Ruoying Chen explained debt financing tools of local government in China and their risks, whereas Dr Lu Wang looked through the challenges that digital currency was facing against protecting international investment under the current regime.