Digitalisation of the Austrian Financial Market – Findings from the Call for Input
Today, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) published the findings of its call for input about its Study on “Digitalisation of the Austrian Financial Market” which was published in Summer 2019. The participating stakeholders generally share and confirm the FMA’s conclusions reached on the basis of the study. In addition, they also submitted a large number of additional information, proposals and practical examples to the FMA.
Overall, the participating stakeholders consider the effects of digitalisation to be a positive one, since they help to understand customers better, and to tailor business models as well as products better towards their needs. In the short-term, participants do not expect any disruption to their core business, but also reckon with it being necessary to adapt supervised entities’ business models in the long-term. Barriers to digitalisation are considered not only to exist due to the regulatory environment, but also to some extent as a result of the partially fragmented and out-of-date IT environment, due to the corporate culture as well as due to the digital competence of customers. The participating stakeholders assume that new digital competitors will force existing entities to engage in constant further development – with the largest changes to be expected is the sectors retail, payments, investment advice and self-service. At the same time new digital competitors are not considered solely as competition but also as potential partners for cooperation.
Product design and distribution are highlighted by the participating stakeholders from two sides: On the one hand, they recognise the advantages of digitalisation and advocated that the regulatory framework should permit transactions to be settled in a completely digital manner. On the other hand, ensuring that traditional forms of communication and distribution channels are maintained are also afforded great importance, to ensure that less digitally-savvy customers are also able to keep up with the pace.
The participating stakeholders are of the opinion that the transformation process as part of the drive to digitalisation should be accompanied by the FMA. The FMA’s role is in particular seen in guaranteeing a level playing field, without intervening in a way that regulates competition. The “sandbox” concept in particular is welcomed, which permits entities to try out new business models as well as to obtain an overview about regulatory standards. Furthermore, the FMA also expects to conduct deep-dive analyses in the future about the opportunities and threats posed by digitalisation for the financial market, and therefore to keep abreast of fast-moving developments.
The Study on “Digitalisation of the Austrian Financial Market: the Status Quo, Outlook and Call for Input” is based on a comprehensive data collection exercise, which was conducted in 2018 in banks, insurance companies and other financial services providers. The Study as well as the full report on the Findings from the Call for Input can be downloaded from the FMA Website at https://www.fma.gv.at/en/publications/study-on-digitalisation-of-the-financial-market/.
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Ms. Annemarie Bauer